Sector Connector

Keeping your IT secure – Jackdaw Web Design

Keeping your IT secure – some hints and tips from Jackie Latham of Jackdaw Web Design

It goes without saying that we are living in very uncertain times. The last two years, plus the terrible situation in Ukraine, have left us all feeling, at best, unsettled.

None of us know how the world will change in coming months, and much of it will be out of our control.  But there are things you can do to make you and your charity just that little bit safer.

We already know that many of the recent cyber security issues, both large and small, have originated in Russia, so it’s not unreasonable to think that these will continue or may even escalate.  But even small voluntary organisations aren’t powerless to deal with these threats. There are things you can do to secure your PCs, tablets, phones and websites.

If you do think that your IT network is at particular risk then you should consult a cybersecurity professional.  However, based on my experience of working in corporate and small business IT for longer than I care to remember, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

Keeping your devices secure

There are three main types of ‘hack’ which happen with a fair degree of regularity:

  • A hack – where someone gets access to your device and can then use that access to steal valuable information such as bank details, personal information or passwords.
  • A ransomware attack-  where you suddenly see a message saying that everything on your device has been locked and that you need to pay to get the password to unlock it.
  • Phishing – where you receive what looks to be a legitimate email that directs you to a site where they get you to enter your personal details and then use them to steal your identity and to hack other sites.

Apple devices have their own unique way of dealing with hackers but if you have Windows PCs, laptops and tablets, or Android tablets and phones, here’s what you need to do:

Install a decent antivirus/firewall

You often see these described as ‘Internet Security’.  There are free ones available such as Avast, but free ones are limited in what they can do and the rate at which they’re updated when new viruses come along. The best free one for Windows is Microsoft’s own in-built firewall, but again it’s not the complete solution, nor is it as good as the best paid-for firewalls.  When choosing your antivirus/firewall look for:

  • Lots of good consumer reviews, which praise not only the security and ease of use, but also customer support
  • Extra functionality. The best ones will also include such things as protection against ransomware attacks, a vault to store your passwords, and a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which hides your connection completely when you’re visiting, say, your bank’s website.

Back up your PC, laptop, tablet or phone regularly

Options for backing up tablets and phones are limited to cloud solutions (such a Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox).  These are for taking automated backups that run all of the time, but the big problem with them is that if you do get infected by a hack or by ransomware, the infection will instantly spread to your cloud storage making the backup useless.  If you use a PC or laptop then you can get around this by buying an external disk drive (large enough to take a backup) and then regularly copying your files to this disk drive, remembering to unplug it from your device as soon as it’s finished backing up.  This way you’ll always have a clean copy of your data, though of course it won’t be bang up to date.

Keeping your emails secure

As with keeping your devices secure, there are two aspects to this – backups and securing against hacks and data theft.


The trick with backing up email is to first download them all to your computer so that when you run the backup for your device it will include your emails too.  Simply having your email app open when you run the backup won’t include the emails in the backup – you have to download them to a file. The instructions on this vary depending on which app you use to access your emails.

Like backups, these instructions only apply to PCs and laptops. Backing them up using a phone or device is much more problematic. Here are some links to instructions for the most popular apps:

Gmail –

Outlook (ie the app not the email provider) –


Yahoo – there is no good solution for this. This is their suggestion –

Hacking and phishing

Phishing is something that only happens via email. Basically, the hacker will send you an email that looks as though it has come from a company you do business with, typically a bank. At some point it will ask you to login to the company’s website, only it won’t actually belong to the company, it will have been cloned but will belong to the hackers. In this way, they can harvest your personal information and use it to hack your real account.

There are ways to spot a phishing attempt but they’re getting harder and harder to spot.  Things to remember are:

  • Your bank will never send you a link to their site. If they want you to login, they will ask you to visit the site and login in the usual way.
  • Your bank will never ask for your full pin number, even when you do login via their site. Typically, they will ask for a selection of characters from the pin rather than the full thing.
  • If you have any suspicions at all, call your bank and ask them if they’ve sent an email for you to action.

And NEVER open an attachment unless you 100% trust the person who sent it, and you were expecting to receive it. Again, if you’re even the slightest bit suspicious, it only takes seconds to pick up the phone and check with the sender.

Keeping your website secure

Finally, a word about websites.  Again, the same advice applies:

Firewall and antivirus

If you have used something like WordPress to build your site, make sure that it has its own firewall on there and that it’s been configured correctly. Don’t rely on your web host’s firewall as their firewall surrounds the whole server rather than just your website, meaning that if anyone else has a site that is hacked the hackers can easily jump from one website to another.  For WordPress sites, the market leader is called Wordfence, which can be downloaded for free from the WordPress repository. This is a great guide on how to set it up and configure it –


Don’t rely on your host’s backups. Not all hosts take backups, and even ones that do will never guarantee them 100% so it’s up to you to make sure that your site is backed up. If you have a WordPress site you can use a free backup plugin such as UpdraftPlus, but when you’re setting it up make sure that you store the backup in one of their external storage options such as Google Drive. If you don’t have a WordPress website, speak to your provider to ask them for their recommendations.

And finally, a word about passwords

  • DON’T share your password with anyone
  • DON’T use the same password on more than one site
  • If you have the option then DO switch on two-factor authentication.

I hope that’s been useful and has taken some of your worry away. Any questions, feel free to contact me, Jackie, at [email protected]

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Sector Connector Community Friendly Business Awards 2021

Sector Connector continues to attract more businesses, both big and small, who want to give something back and help the voluntary sector of North Tyneside, now more than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The help and supported offered by these businesses include pro bono services, free resources, free information volunteers and collections for community causes.

These businesses often go over and above what they were originally asked to do, in their desire to help and can this can lead to long lasting relationships with the community organisations they’ve helped!

To celebrate the achievements of some of these businesses, we presented two organisations with a Community Friendly Business Award at the recent VODA AGM and North Tyneside VCSE Awards. Here are the winners and a little bit about why they were chosen.

Jackdaw Web Design – Jackie Latham from Jackdaw Web Design has not only provided support to a number of organisations to improve and update their websites, she has provided invaluable advice to those looking to create a web presence for the first time and has also delivered highly-regarded, free workshops to help organisations consider the accessibility of their websites.

Picture shows Jackie Latham receiving her award from Dr Dave Tomson, Keynote speaker at the VODA AGM.

Rain Data – when we were all still reeling from the first lockdown and trying to work out how best to support the most vulnerable and isolated members of our community, Tony Waddle from Raindata got in touch to see how he could help out.  Rain Data provides industry leading data services and works with companies of all sizes.  Tony and his team worked tirelessly in the early days of lockdown to develop a pro bono Customer Relationship Management system for Dreamshine, to enable them to effectively manage the volunteers who provided telephone befriending throughout the pandemic.  Dreamshine wouldn’t have been able to operate without Rain Data’s support and the business continues to lend its support.

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New businesses signing up to Sector Connector

As everyone is starting to open up after lockdown, Sector Connector has been busy making approaches to additional businesses that might be willing to provide support for voluntary and community groups.

As many of these businesses have been hard hit themselves by the COVID pandemic, this is not always about providing free services, but they are community-minded businesses that are aware of the constraints on charities and the need to make funds stretch as far as possible.

Over the last month, in addition to the existing providers, we have now had businesses sign up which can provide help with:

  • Architectural services
  • Fire safety
  • First aid training
  • Food packaging
  • Graphic design
  • Health & safety inspections/advice
  • IT services – hardware & software
  • IT training
  • Legal services
  • Manual Handling training
  • Marketing & Branding
  • Quantity Surveying

Get in touch if you think that you can make use of any of these services, or would like to discuss the support on offer. More businesses are being added to the list each week, but you can let us know if there are particular types of business that you would like to see providing support through Sector Connector. Contact [email protected].

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Suitability: supporting men of the North East into employment

Darren who works for Moving On Tyne & Wear, (a local employability programme that supports people with mental and physical health barriers gain access to education, employment and training) was approached by one of his participants asking for help finding some free interview clothing. He had secured his first interview and didn’t have anything suitable or the funds to buy anything. Darren was aware of a brilliant service for woman called Smartworks who offer a dressing service with free interview clothing and 1-2-1 interview coaching but there wasn’t anything set up for men within the North East.

So, Darren donated his own suit to his participant. He not only looked the part but had a new found confidence which he took to his interview. The icing on the cake was that he was successful and he was offered the job! The suit was given back to Darren and the idea of Suitability was born.

Darren reached out to his family and friends asking for clothing and suit donations which were stored in his parents garage and loft. From there he reached out to businesses across the region and focused on his social media accounts to grow Suitability and gather more donations allowing him to support any man who came to him for help.

His stock soon outgrew his parents’ house and Suitability was moved to a storage unit where he was gifted 9 months free usage. This is now coming to an end and Darren has set up a crowd funding page to help him raise the money to keep the storage facility and continue to support the men of the North East throughout 2021.

If you’d like to support Suitability, and consequently the men of the region look and feel great at an interview, then please donate clothing items! Alternatively, you could contribute towards their goal of keeping their storage facility. To learn more and to contact Darren, follow Suitability on Twitter or Facebook.

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Accenture Digital Skills free courses

Accenture Digital Skills is a free, interactive series of online courses which help and prepare people to build the digital skills necessary to gain a job or start a business.

Courses include:

  • Social Media
  • Web Analytics
  • Grow Your Career
  • Mobile
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Digital Marketing
  • Retail
  • User Experience

You can sign up to these courses here.

This site will be constantly updated with new courses so charities can check back at any time.

If there are any specific areas/tools that do not appear, charities can make suggestions of what they would like to see. Please contact [email protected].

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Sector Connector Community Friendly Business Awards 2019

Sector Connector continues to attract more businesses, both big and small, who want to give something back and help the voluntary sector of North Tyneside.

The help and supported offered by these businesses include pro bono services, free resources, free information volunteers and collections for community causes.

These businesses often go over and above what they were originally asked to do, in their desire to help and can this can lead to long lasting relationships with the community organisations they’ve helped!

To celebrate the achievements of some of these businesses, we presented three organisations with a Community Friendly Business Award at the recent VODA AGM and North Tyneside Voluntary Awards. Here are the winners and a little bit about why they were chosen.








Based on Cobalt Business Park, Accenture supports multi-million-pound businesses with their strategies, digital technology and operational services.

Over the last year, Accenture staff have volunteered with a range of voluntary organisations in a variety of roles.

  • Helped develop the community orchard and Whitley Bay Community Allotment
  • Provided entertainment for residents of sheltered accommodation
  • Supported IT projects
  • Hosted Design Thinking workshops
  • Collected for social action projects

Whenever Sector Connector calls, they are usually able to help in some way!

Carney Consultancy Ltd







Training is vital to ensure the continued expertise and knowledge of voluntary sector organisations, but at a time when budgets are being squeezed, it is often the thing that is forced to drop of the radar.

Carney Consultancy, a Health and Safety Consultancy training provider, has over the last year stepped in to help Sector Connector by making thousands of pounds of training available free of charge free to voluntary organisations.

A number of voluntary organisations have benefitted from free Mental Health at Work, Emergency First Aid at Work, Manual Handling and Risk Assessment courses.

Carney Consultancy has also provided support to Phoenix Detached Youth Project and the Lighthouse Club.

Bell Group







Corporate volunteering often brings to mind a team of accountants painting a room. Bell Group however is a decorating company that works across the North East and Cumbria and through Sector Connector has provided professional painters to help out local charities in North Tyneside.

Over the last year, Bell Group’s apprentices have delivered excellent quality work, free of charge for local voluntary organisations such as Christ Church and Age UK North Tyneside, and have also provided free paint to community groups.

The difference that they have made to these groups and the cheerfulness with which the staff from Bell Group have worked with Sector Connector is why they were winners of a Community Business Friendly Award.

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Sector Connector special edition bulletin

The latest issue of the Sector Connector bulletin, aimed at Sector Connector business partners, was a special edition printed magazine, which was facilitated by our Sector Connector partnership with yourPrintDepartment.

You can read the full bulletin here.

If you would like to find out more about Sector Connector, please get in touch.

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New look for Sector Connector







We’re delighted to reveal our new look Sector Connector logo and strapline, which has been kindly developed for us via a Sector Connector partnership with yourPrintDepartment in North Shields.

The new logo has been developed in response to the changing nature of Sector Connector and more accurately reflects the professional standard of the project and what it does. Thank you to the team at yourPrintDepartment for your support!

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Sector Connector offer from For You Photography

For You Photography, a photography business based in North Tyneside, is keen to support voluntary and community organisations in the borough.

For You Photography is offering 20% discount on its normal prices for photographic commissions and can help capture events and special moments or take staff photographs for your website and Facebook pages, contact [email protected].

In addition, through Sector Connector, For You Photography is offering a limited number of free photographic sessions throughout the year for voluntary and community organisations. This could include getting professional headshots for your staff page, or creative photographs of the services you offer to help make your social media and website look more professional and unique. If you are interested in this offer, please contact Ian Dodds.


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VODA’s Sector Connector Project Scoops NAVCA Award





On Tuesday 19 March NAVCA held their first ever national awards event in London, showcasing the brilliant achievements of their member organisations. We are delighted that North Tyneside VODA’s Sector Connector project came home with the ‘Collaboration and Partnership Working Award’.

The NAVCA Awards have been designed to celebrate local third sector infrastructure – the unsung heroes of our sector – and a total of nine awards were handed out during the evening, including two for the Newcastle CVS.

Robin Fry, VODA’s Chief Executive, said “We nominated our Sector Connector project in the category of Collaboration and Partnership Working as we believe it is a shining example of how the private and third sectors can work together for mutual benefit. Since the project began, over 100 businesses have engaged in Sector Connector, having a hugely positive impact on North Tyneside’s voluntary and community sector. Collaboration is one of our five core values at VODA, and facilitating cross-sector partnerships is a key strategic objective. I am immensely proud of the work that our Sector Connector project has achieved to date, and look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

Sector Connector recognises that, at a time when voluntary and community organisations are being encouraged to be more entrepreneurial, the private sector has skills and experience that are useful to charities, whilst those same charities and community organisations can help businesses to better understand the communities they serve.

The project enables any business, irrespective of size, to engage with its local community, whether it’s through the giving of time by providing one-to-one mentoring and advice; taking part in team volunteering days; sharing skills and expertise by delivering workshops for groups of community organisations; or by becoming trustees.

Businesses involved with Sector Connector offer a wide range of support including:

  • Making free spaces available for voluntary organisations on a two-day Mental Health First Aid training course.
  • Provision of free support to design branding and marketing for a community orchard.
  • Delivery of a workshop on ‘getting the most out of your team’ from a private sector personal coach (feedback from which indicates VCS managers who attended have completely transformed the way that they are working).
  • A collaboration project between the business sector and the voluntary sector to explore the regeneration of North Shields town centre.

VODA is always looking for new businesses to get involved in the Sector Connector project, if you would like to get involved, please contact Ian Dodds.

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