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Your Stories - Your Stories

Helping the UK realise their potential

The projects we work on have real life human impact and we look forward to hearing the stories of people that we have helped to realise their potential. You will find on this site a selection of stories from people that have benefitted from our community projects.

We hope that you will find these stories interesting and that they will inspire you to realise your potential, perhaps with a little help from Microsoft.

Stories

Pioneering a new era of medicine

The ability to understand and manipulate key functions of the human immune system lies at the heart of new therapeutic strategies to combat a range of diseases including cancer. The greatest barrier to achieving this medical revolution is the lack of computer models that can accurately predict immune system behaviour.

Now, Andrew Phillips, a scientist at Microsoft Research Cambridge, together with collaborators at the University of Southampton, is developing a radically new computer-based model of the immune system to enable these advances to be made.

Microsoft Research Services supports the training and development of the UK's future scientists and technologists, enabling them to work together to push scientific frontiers and bring positive change to people's lives.

Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment

Dominic Green and Ben Nunney did just that when they entered their project ‘EnviroMatch' in the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

Enviromatch shows young people how they can combat climate change, in a fun, interactive way. The software links into social networking sites and uses mini-games with an environmental theme. One of which involves turning off lights and gadgets in a virtual house, with the player's final score reflected as the number of Xbox videogames they could buy with the money saved on electricity.

The Imagine Cup is one way Microsoft is encouraging young people to apply their imagination, their passion and their creativity to technology innovations that can provide solutions to real world issues.

Motivating pupils with creative teaching

Creative use of ICT in the classroom has the power to transform lessons and inspire pupils – just ask Alessio Bernardelli, Deputy Team Leader of Science at Croesyceiliog School near Cardiff, and winner of an Innovative Teacher award.

Thanks to his pioneering approach, the school's year 7 Forensic Science pupils can document their crime scene investigations using a range of Microsoft technology in imaginative ways, such as developing news reports of their forensic investigations using Photo Story. Alessio's novel use of ICT also inspires the class to work together in close-knit teams.

The Microsoft Innovative Teachers Programme aims to create a community of teachers who learn from and inspire each other. By joining online communities and producing virtual classroom tours, teachers on the programme can achieve Innovative Teacher status, and establish collaborative learning projects.

Opening the door on opportunity

Like many pupils, Tom Ellis struggled with conventional classroom learning, and left school with very few GCSEs and limited options. Fortunately, he was one of over 50 students referred each year to the Microsoft IT Academy within Middlesex ITeC. The charity enables Tom and the other students to fulfil their academic potential with specialist training on a variety of Microsoft Office products in a safe and supportive environment.

Tom blossomed during his time at the Academy and used his new-found confidence and skills to secure a college place studying for a BTEC in Business.

The Microsoft IT Academy programme helps many education establishments like ITeC and students like Tom to acquire new technology skills in an academic setting.

Being part of the community

Malcolm Groves has spinal injuries which means he must walk with aid of crutches. He is also currently unemployed, but the work he does at the Discover IT facilities of his local Leonard Cheshire Disability Centre provides a valuable service to his community and helps to preserve its unique heritage.

As a keen member of his local historical society, Malcolm, of Alfreton, Derbyshire, uses the facilities to produce a range of promotional materials. He uses Microsoft software to bring old pictures to life and create calendars from the images and guidebooks of local walks. These are printed professionally or burned onto CD and sold to raise funds for the historical society.

With support from Microsoft as part of its Unlimited Potential programme, the Discover IT facilities at Leonard Cheshire Disability Centres across the UK give people the skills they need to improve their lives and get more involved in their community.

Switching on to possibilities

The South Lakes Society for the Blind (SLSB) provides support and services for residents of the local region who have visual impairment. It currently helps around 600 people, and one of its key services is providing IT training and technology to support and enhance users' lives.

The Kendal-based charity purchases laptops via a lottery grant, and receives donations of Microsoft Office Professional Plus software via the Charity Technology Trust's Charity Technology Exchange (CTX) programme. Charles Ely, SLSB's Technology Adviser, installs each laptop with the MS Office suite and specialist screen reader software, which converts on-screen text to speech. The laptops are then loaned out to help those in the local community with visual impairment to enjoy the benefits of IT.

As well as empowering the visually impaired in Cumbria and across the UK, the CTX programme runs the Microsoft Software Donation Scheme which helps charities access free software and release funds for other areas of their work.

Opening eyes and ears to new possibilities

Robin Christopherson's vision degenerated until he completely lost his sight. Yet, today he is a web consultancy manager, advising companies on how to make their websites more accessible.

The Cambridge University graduate uses an ergonomic keyboard to control his computer and software that reads aloud written content from the Microsoft Office suite. As Robin says, "Never assume technology can't help you improve your life. I have a career and lifestyle I love."

Microsoft supports AbilityNet, a leading UK charity which brings the benefits of computer technology to adults and children with disabilities.

Snapping up new skills

When 94-year-old Andrew Biggar became learndirect scotland's Senior Learner of the Year he said he was overwhelmed but vowed to keep on learning until he was at least 100!

The grandfather from Melrose cared for his wife Pat, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. When Pat was taken into residential care, Andrew's daughter persuaded him to get a computer.

He enrolled in computing classes at his local learning centre in Melrose and combined his new IT skills with a lifelong hobby - by learning about digital photography.

"I benefitted from the intellectual challenge of the courses but I also made lots of new friends. I would encourage other to do the same thing, as I find I am never bored or lonely," he said.

"I was amazed and delighted when I received the award. I hope other people might be encouraged to learn because it shows you never, ever are too old to learn," said Andrew.

Volunteering for a greater cause

For children, the internet offers a place to learn, connect with friends and have fun. But alongside the benefits, there are places and activities online that can pose a risk to children's privacy and personal safety, and it's important that they have the information and advice they need to stay safe online.

Kathy Isherwood is one of a growing number of Microsoft volunteers trained to deliver the Think U Know internet safety programme to young people around the UK. Kathy and colleagues are working alongside CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) to ensure children understand how to stay safe online, and where to go to voice any concerns.

The Microsoft Employee Volunteering Programme offers employees an additional three days annual leave a year to undertake voluntary activities in the community. Our employees use this leave and more to support schools and charities across the UK.

Offering new directions

The Black Country region around Wolverhampton was once a thriving industrial area, but recent decline in manufacturing has led to a sharp rise in unemployment. Now, through a network of 120 technology centres, disadvantaged communities are receiving technology skills training to equip them for new opportunities.

One person to benefit from the scheme is 27-year-old Sam Spittle. Sam had spent many years working in bars and clubs in and around Wolverhampton, but he felt the time had come to start doing something different with his life. Thanks to IT classes from the Black Country Learning Net, he has improved his self-confidence and attained IT qualifications to help him further his career prospects.

The Black Country Consortium project is a long-term commitment supported by Microsoft to develop a stronger knowledge economy, broaden digital inclusion and enable job growth in this economically depressed region. It improves the skills of the current labour force, and equips the unemployed with the chance of a brighter future.

Did you know?

In 2008 Microsoft Employees fundraised over 500,000 for UK Charities.

Last year 6,530 PC were refurbished in the UK through the MAR scheme.

Last year Microsoft donated 10 million of software to UK charities.

In 2008 25 teams undertook a one day volunteering project in the local community.



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