The chairman of a North East technology company is urging fellow business leaders to support an inspiring social enterprise right on his doorstep.
Tom Wilkinson, executive chairman of International Innovative Technologies Ltd. (IIT), is channelling more than 25 years of developing ideas and markets across the globe to help his next-door neighbour, Gateshead publican Paul Smith.
Tom, who founded IIT in Gateshead with business partner and managing director George Ord in 2006, is helping Paul to get an innovative health and social care communications tool firmly established as a national service. Tom, who lives in Low Fell, was amazed to discover that the friendly face he encountered in his quiet cul-de-sac each morning was working tirelessly as the founder, and one of three volunteer directors, of www.justvisiting.com The free social network website creates a network of care around hospital patients and their visitors.
After a chance conversation, Paul spoke passionately of the success of his NHS-endorsed enterprise since it was established as a not-for profit Community Interest Company in 2008. He also revealed that the service was in need of an injection of funding, and business acumen to ensure it could be developed and widely adopted by hospital trusts, care homes and hospices across the UK.
The justvisiting.com website allows users, with minimal fuss or registration, to create – or visit – an ‘online visiting room’. Here, a patient’s main visitor would post regular updates of the patient’s progress and invite well-wishers to visit the website to keep up to date when they are unable to visit the hospital for themselves due to distance, care commitments, risk of infection, or simply the cost of travel and hospital parking.
Piloted by Gateshead NHS, the free service, which is secure and confidential, has proven extremely popular and has also reduced the telephone inquiries to hospital wards, allowing staff to deliver more care. Hospital trusts across the country are starting to adopt the service and supporters include the Royal College of Nursing and Barclays Community Foundation.
Tom is aiming to help Paul and the justvisiting directors by identifying additional funding and marketing opportunities.
He said: “I was taken aback when Paul first spoke to me about justvisiting. It is a wonderful idea born and bred here in Gateshead with unlimited – and currently untapped – potential to be a unique global service which is free to use and brings incredible benefits to patients and their loved ones. It is such a compelling product with an inspiring and uplifting ethos.
“With so many opportunities for businesses like mine to develop their brand through expensive marketing and media initiatives, supporting and sponsoring a local not-for-profit organisation like justvisiting, is a credible and authentic way for successful brands and big employers to truly demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility and community relations.”
Any individuals or businesses that would like to help shape justvisiting’s growth and development can contact Tom at IIT or Paul Smith at justvisiting.com at firstname.lastname@example.org