Published: 03/11/2005 Volume 115 No. 5980 Page 18
Sarah Hamilton-Fairley, chief executive, StartHere
I was greatly heartened to read that ministers are committed to taking information and the way people access services seriously (news, page 9, 6 October). The sad reality is that too often the services that people need do exist - both nationally and locally - but people do not know how to access them.
StartHere identified this problem some years ago, and the charity was set up to address the issue. Our solution: harnessing technology to create an electronic signposting system that enables people to find the organisation that can help them quickly and easily.
StartHere does not require any technical knowledge or understanding of the different silos of service provision. By creating an intuitive service, built from the perspective of the user, StartHere reaches a significant proportion of the population still excluded from online services and those who cannot find the solution to their problem through existing services.
Sue Gower, whose son had muscular dystrophy, points out in your article that 'when you are diagnosed there should be more information about what is locally available in the local area. It would be empowering.' Had StartHere been available to Ms Gower, she would have found that there are three national charities that provide help, support and services for people affected by muscular dystrophy.
Depending on where she lived, she would probably have also found a number of local support groups.
The next challenge is to deliver the service as an integrated and part of service delivery.
We look forward to hearing from people who believe that information is power, and can help implement a solution.
-www. starthere. org