One of the worse aspects of being a full-time teacher was the Inspections that happened every four years or so. These were traumatic times and during the run-up to the week-long inspection all staff had to ensure that their Course Reports were up to date and accurate. So traumatic were these inspections that one of my colleagues calculated that before he retired he would face another five Inspections; the thought of which led to him leaving teaching and becoming an Independent Financial Adviser which, I suppose, meant no more inspections.
I started to do the same sort of calculation last week-end when the launch of the new Website was looming. Our previous website was three years old and based on antiquated and baffling ‘code’ – whatever that is. It was seriously in need of a revamp and we commissioned Artemis Websites to undertake the upgrade. Even though the company was incredibly professional and took care of most things, there was still quite a lot of information that I had to provide such as new copy for the site, making sure that what we put on the site was as accurate as possible etc.
And then there was the issue of integrating the membership etc. There were a hundred things that could have gone wrong but, thankfully, last Sunday the new site went live with only minimal problems.
One of the main changes to the site has been the introduction of a new membership system. The old system offered just one class of members – £20 lifetime membership. This brought with it problems however. We would receive telephone calls from members who had joined six years previously and who would ask for us to get involved in their Employment tribunals or wanted us to write letters etc. And it seemed a little unfair that they had enjoyed six years of membership and were still eligible for free advice etc. Most members who joined the society, had full access to the website, found out what they wanted to know and we never saw them again, which was fine, but it didn’t seem right that they could keep asking for information six years after they had originally joined. And there was the additional problem of people who wanted to pay more than the £20 required to join the society. Their only option was to make an additional donation. So, we decided to begin a new system of becoming a member. There are now three types of membership: Bronze which costs £20 and is for one year. If the member wants to still remain a member then he or she would have to pay another £20 for another year’s full access to the website. Silver members pay £20 to join and then pay just £10 for each successive year (taken by Direct Debit from their Debit or Credit Card). Gold members pay £100 for a lifetime membership, get a signed copy of my book along with window stickers, pens, and wristbands.
Now, I didn’t expect many people to sign up to the Lifetime membership but, in less than a week, we have had three Gold members which shows just how grateful some people are of our services. Or, perhaps it is the fact that they want that signed copy rather than anything else!
The new website fulfils our obligation to the Charity Commission as it provides a comprehensive explanation of what Pernicious Anaemia is for free – it’s available in the Library section to anyone. And there is also free information to carers or relatives of patients with PA. More detailed information is available only to members. There is also a new feature that allows medical professionals to contact the society using an online form. We are getting more and more enquiries from doctors and other professionals who are becoming more aware of the problems with the diagnosis and treatment of PA. Any medical professional who contacts the society is given a comprehensive ‘Update’ on the present problems with diagnosis and treatment – all free of course.
So there it is. We have a shiny, more user-friendly and more accurate website. Thanks to Artemis Websites for their help and patience in designing and producing the site. It should serve us well for another four years……then it starts all over again – a bit like Education Inspections.