Discovering the benefits of giving

Hello. My name is Kim Slocombe and I am a Project Finance Analyst (PFA) in the Finance department.  I have worked for the company via a number of takeovers, starting with F.I., through Xansa, Steria and now Sopra Steria, for the last 26 years.

Three years ago in January, I felt that my children were all grown up and I was not needed as much for them so I decided to start some volunteering work. I was at a fundraising event for Launchpad, which is a Prevention of Homelessness charity in Reading, UK and enquired about volunteering for them. I was accepted and have been spending 3 hours a week helping in their Education, Training and Employment Hub (ETE). 

Launchpad deal with clients who are homeless, in threat of homelessness and, those with housing problems in general.  They offer support; guidance and temporary accommodation to help people get started again.  In the ETE Hub, I help clients write their CVs and apply for work, whilst helping them with basic computer skills so they can continue on their own. 

We also offer skills training courses for computing and keyboard, Construction certificate course practice and Health and Hygiene Food courses. It has been a time of great satisfaction for me and given me a chance to try something new whilst being of some use. It is for my work with Launchpad that I was nominated and won the Sopra Steria “Volunteer of the Year” award. 

I feel very humbled and grateful that my meagre efforts have been recognised in such a fantastic way.  The prize trip to India promises to be a whirlwind tour of the fabulous work done by the Sopra Steria India Foundation (SSIF).

It will be a chance to see for myself what the SSIF, led by Gayathri Mohan, Head of CSR, do for the children of India. There are projects happening in Noida, Pune and Chennai, which help put around 70,000 children through school and university each year. That we as a company help so many disadvantaged children and families is just an amazing feat. The hard work and care shown by Gayathri and her team should be an inspiration to us all.  I hope to see on my trip how all the projects are helping the children get an education and a chance to elevate their living standards for themselves and their families in the very hard world that they live in.  I have heard of the elation with which Gayathri is received when she visits the schools and pupils her team helps and hope to witness the eagerness to learn, happiness and enthusiasm that going to school gives them.  I suspect this trip is going to be a wonderful experience that opens my eyes to a way of life very different from my own.

By Kim Slocombe

My thoughts on the Sopra Steria India Foundation and the volunteering work we do to make a difference

This year I was lucky enough to be nominated for an award for my voluntary work and was selected as one of the Sopra Steria Volunteers of the Year for 2018 where I won an all-expenses-paid trip to India, to see the amazing work of the Sopra Steria India Foundation (SSIF), I leave for this exciting trip in a weeks’ time.

Over the nearly 2 weeks I am there, I will visit the international award-winning Community programmes run by Gayathri Mohan, Head of CSR for Sopra Steria India. Every year, Gayathri’s programme supports around 70,000 children through school, while also providing free lunches, access to drinking water and toilet facilities, and a huge number of other educational and social initiatives.

She also runs the Sopra Steria Scholarship programme, where we fund the full university education and living costs for a number of the brightest students from schools we support. So far more than 500 pupils through higher education programmes thanks to the Sopra Steria scholarship programme.

My volunteering

I volunteer every week at the Great Western Hospital Falcon Ward in Swindon, visiting patients on the major stroke unit, providing much needed company for individuals who may have had no visitors, as well as helping with feeding for patients who have little or no mobility.

I was inspired to volunteer after I had fought a very personal battle caring for my sister with Motor Neurone Disease. It was whilst visiting her in the hospital that that I picked up a leaflet asking for volunteers, that was over 4 years ago now. I absolutely love doing it!

I know some of the patients I see have not had a visitor all day, very often I spend time with each person chatting and putting the world to rights, chatting about travel, gardening or cooking before helping the nurses with their feeding and making cups of tea. Just simple things that I know make a difference, being the major stroke unit there are many patients there who struggle with communications and that takes time, time that the nurses don’t always have.

In addition to my work at the hospital which I am still doing and I also volunteer for a local group called “The Achievers” (Adult LD Group) this is a voluntary group in Swindon that gives adults with Learning difficulties a social context in which to interact with other adults and care receivers. We once a month arrange a social get together for the ‘members’ this varies from a meal at a local pub, cinema or theatre visits, day trips to local amenities e.g. Longleat or a canal boat trip. The members of the group have many varied disabilities from eating and drinking difficulties, communication and hearing difficulties, autism, complex physical needs, long term health conditions, behaviour that challenges others, sensory disability & mental health illness. This is a lovely group currently there are about 40 members in the Swindon area and we have just had a summer picnic and walk and are planning a Christmas meal and a trip to the panto in January, I give my time on this the day trips are usually at the weekends and evening functions I do after work.


By John Gough

Sopra Steria to deliver world-leading software set for Transport for London to keep the capital’s roads moving

Sopra Steria has been awarded a contract by new client Transport for London (TfL) to develop a new control room system to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the capital, such as congestion and road danger.

TfL is responsible for managing 580km of the capital’s busiest roads, as well as a number of other vital assets such as bridges, tunnels and more than 6,000 traffic lights. This new software will present a data rich picture of what is happening on the roads across London, enabling TfL to respond quickly to incidents and keep the capital moving. Pulling in a lot more source data about congestion, bus performance, weather, roadworks and traffic incidents, the new control room will give everyone managing the road network a single unified view and will include up to the minute details of all known incidents and the actions being taken.

“We’re working to completely overhaul the way we manage London’s road network as we tackle some of the biggest challenges our growing city faces, such as poor air quality, road danger and congestion. Our world-leading work with Sopra Steria will enable us to respond to incidents on the roads much more quickly, keeping the roads safe and clear and helping to keep London moving.”

Glynn Barton, TfL’s Director of Network Management

“Our vision is to empower Government to make a difference to everyone, every day, through the services we design and deliver. The new control room system will make use of rich data to enable TfL to keep the capital’s citizens and visitors alike safe and on the move through the city’s road network.”

Adrian Fieldhouse, Sopra Steria’s Managing Director for Government

To find out more about our work in central government, please visit: https://www.soprasteria.co.uk/markets/government

Corporate Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award – setting our course for excellence in Armed Forces community engagement

At the end of July Prime Minister Boris Johnston announced the opening of a new Office for Veterans’ Affairs, a hub established to coordinate and drive Government policy on veterans’ mental and physical health, education and employment.

While this is clearly an excellent development, at Sopra Steria we believe that responsibility for helping veterans to access rewarding and gainful employment extends beyond the UK Government and into the private sector. There are initiatives that industry can drive to support the effectiveness of this new office, leveraging technology to bring together the veteran community. 

The Armed Forces community possesses a wealth of qualities that enrich business. In our organisation we have often found that veterans come to us having held posts of phenomenal responsibility, sometimes having managed teams that are much larger and more complex than those that they’ll encounter in the corporate world.

To engage and retain such outstanding individuals, it is important that businesses bear in mind that many veterans and other members of the Armed Forces community (including spouses of serving members, reservists and cadet instructors) have differing professional and personal development needs from their counterparts. The Armed Forces are unique; our conventions and turns of phrase often baffle the uninitiated! Leaving the familial military environment and entering the commercial sphere can be a big step, even for a community known for its grit and agility.

It is for this reason that I and other business leaders at Sopra Steria signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant in 2013. Our public commitment signals to veterans that we value the contribution that they can bring to our organisation and offer practical help and support to facilitate their introduction to a domain less familiar. I am delighted that we have now been awarded Bronze status under the Employer Recognition Scheme; an important step that sets out our intention to structure and professionalise our approach to Armed Forces community engagement. Bronze Award is a stepping stone on our journey to best practice, a destination that will rank us employer of choice for these talented people. We will focus new energy on this in the coming months, with the aim to digitally-enable this powerful community.

Vern Davis – Managing Director for Aerospace, Defence and Security

How the Public Make Contact with the Police

Today making the best use of technology is high on the agenda in UK policing. Senior officials are continually looking at ways in improving their use of technology, in order to keep more officers on the streets, aid in their investigations as well as making it easier for the public to report incidents and crime.

We spoke to Mark Burns -Williamson, Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners on the use of technology in the reporting and management of crime.

Mark commented:

“People use technology in their everyday lives now and there is an expectation from the public that the police are making the best use of technology.”

The way in which citizens are reporting crime is changing as well as a huge strain felt on the 999 and 101 telephone systems – meaning that police forces across the UK are looking at ways in which they can provide better contact services to citizens through the use of technology.

Much like other service providers with a public contact need, the police must look at more ways in which the public can digitally make contact whether be online, via instant messaging applications or by other means.

This interview is part of our Policing Spotlight series where we explore key issues relating to policing in the UK, with senior law enforcement figures. To view the video interview and follow the series, visit our Policing Spotlight page.

How Technology Helps Incident Room Call Handlers

In an emergency situation police control room call handlers need effective technology solutions to help them respond and deploy the appropriate help to, in many cases, life or death situations.

We spoke to Steve Austin, Regional Account Manager of APD, a partner of Sopra Steria.

SmartContact  is a control room solution jointly provided by Sopra Steria and APD. It enables the public to make contact with the police via various channels for example through web chat or instant messaging. In some cases, the issue can be resolved swiftly through this means of communication.

A call handler is able to track an individual’s call history, through the audit trail of contacts provided by the systems Customer Relationship Management (CRM) capabilities. This crucially provides the call handler context in relation to a particular individual e.g. a vulnerable person who may contact the police in a particular way to report being in danger. This information is made immediately available to the call handler each time the individual makes contact.

Technology can and does help call handlers in police incident rooms manage critical calls more effectively providing increased assistance to the public.

This interview is part of our Policing Spotlight series where we explore key issues relating to policing in the UK, with senior law enforcement figures. To view the video interview and follow the series, visit our Policing Spotlight page.

Policing on the frontline – observations from an evening on patrol

There is no denying that as a society we face many issues, at a macro level we are tackling issues around immigration, organised crime and drugs. Locally, our police forces find themselves dealing with petty criminals, knife crime, drug misuse and domestic violence. Police officers find themselves trying to operate in the face of increasing bureaucracy, stiffer scrutiny, decreasing funding and dwindling officer numbers. 

A survey undertaken by the Police Federation earlier this year revealed that smaller numbers of officers were on patrol and in some cases working alone, with nine in ten officers saying they don’t feel there are enough of them to manage demand. Officers find themselves having to be more reactive than proactive, yet continue to work tirelessly, with the resources they have, in order to keep the public safe.

I say this because recently I experienced many of these issues first hand. As a long standing technology provider to South Yorkshire, assisting them in their emergency and crime response, I was interested to experience the realities of being on a patrol shift.  I joined two PCs Simon and Kieron of South Yorkshire Police on an evening patrol shift.

The police continue to do a great job despite depleted resources and increased pressures

During patrol Simon showed me what technology and communications they routinely used.  He was honest about the positive and negative aspects of what technology was delivering both to the front line PC and the command and control staff who support them. The picture is mixed and there is certainly more that technology can do to give front line officers better situational awareness, control of resources and better intelligence on which to base operations. 

After only a short time on patrol, we responded to a shop lifting at a major DIY store. Intrinsically not a serious offence, but dig a little deeper and you find that the perpetrators were part of a wider group of people, which would constitute an organised crime network. 

I was told that groups target various aisles in various stores and steal either to supply themselves or to sell on for the cash. They target large stores and stores with a ‘no challenge’ policy (in place to protect their staff). I can only imagine the cost to business of this endemic problem.

Our patrol decided that these particular culprits should be arrested. By making that decision it meant five officers and three vehicles were needed to arrest the offenders and take them into custody – female officers were required to attend due to some of the offending group being female.

This is a prime example of an issue that affects society at local and macro level, and one that our police officers have to contend with as a part of their day-to-day efforts.  

It’s not as simple as we need more police on the streets

In the example of the patrol shift I was on, what struck me are the systemic issues facing a Police Officer nowadays. After the arrest of the shoplifters, the two officers on patrol then returned to the station to complete paperwork for the remainder of the shift.

In a seven hour shift, the officers I was with were only able to respond to one incident. The rest of the shift was spent doing the required reporting, paperwork and chain of evidence needed to process these three people, all of whom were released later the same day to face charges again at some point in the future.

There are wider systemic and societal issues at play

The criminal justice system can at times exacerbate the issue. In crimes similar to the incident I witnessed, there is a cycle of re-offence, short term incarceration and then release to begin the cycle again.

With no threat of serious consequences, criminals will continue to offend in this way without the threat of their lives being significantly altered. This results in officers time and time again, having to focus their efforts on the arrest of re-offenders and the resource that comes with it.

Huge societal pressures coupled with lack of funding and suboptimal use of technology is making life harder for our police on the ground.

What also struck me is the disrespect shown to the police, and the wider criminal system. Due to changing attitudes and in the knowledge that they will not face severe consequences, some people feel it is OK for police officers to be disrespected, taunted and verbally and physically abused. It isn’t right, and although the police take it in their stride they really should be better protected.

Being on patrol for only a few hours felt like a microcosm of today’s society. With serious organised crime, as well as knife and gang related crime plaguing our local communities, our police officers are under unprecedented pressure to keep the public safe and combat crime, while being subject to abuse themselves.

Technology can help if maximised

My reason for going on patrol with an officer was to gain frontline insight into why we do what we do at Sopra Steria.

We are long term supporters of the public sector and law enforcement in the UK – providing digital transformation and critical technology to our emergency services, including information and communications technology to aid control room and incident response through our SmartSTORM and SmartContact systems. 

Policy changes to keep PCs out of the station and on the streets are a welcome development. However to do this right, officers and their vehicles have to be equipped with the right information and communications technology. For example, cars need to be transformed into true mobile operating units, with high definition screens integrating the full suite of information and communications technology which aid officers in quick and effective response.    

It is easy to cast over-simplified assertions on the realities of how safe our streets are today. My experience on patrol demonstrates a very complex landscape in regards to frontline policing.

In the quest for more proactive preventative policing, maximising current technology, and striving for continued innovation will go a long way towards helping our police forces run more effectively in serving and protecting the public.

Vern Davis, Managing Director, Aersopace, Defence and Security