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The Lydia Project exists to support and empower women in post-Soviet countries all over Europe as they establish their own self-determined, community-led initiatives. 2015 will see the celebration of over 20 years of working alongside communities in 18 different countries. Over that time they’ve helped a huge range of projects and brought together hundreds of women from different backgrounds and nationalities, to share their experiences of their own new projects through peer-learning. Their work is truly inspirational.

The Lydia Project’s existing website had served them well for many years, but was now in need of an update. The board also recognised the need to widen the number of contributors to help ease the load on the two part-time members of staff. It was clear they needed a site that could be updated by non-technical people, whilst retaining a level of editorial control for safety and other considerations.

While fundraising is still part of Lydia Project’s remit, the bulk of their time is now spent connecting projects directly with funders. Training and event facilitation also figure highly, so the main objectives of the site were around sharing knowledge rather than raising funds.

Time pressured, non-technical staff. With only two, part-time members of staff supporting so many different groups, Lydia Project has to be careful to keep all their activities within the scope of what is sustainable. Neither of the two were particularly familiar with web technologies, so any solution had to be quick to pick up and have great support.

Tight budgets. As a charity organisation, most of the money that comes into the Lydia Project goes straight out to specific projects in Eastern Europe. One donor specifically asked for her donation to be spent on the website, which secured the funding for the new build. Ongoing costs, however, would have to be managed carefully and frugally.

First, we had long chat about the way Lydia Project works, so I could understand the dispersed nature of the team and get a picture of an ideal world solution, as well as what’s more achievable with where they’re at now.

WordPress was the obvious choice of platform for their new website, as it would allow them to have as many different authors as they can get, whilst retaining editorial control. Control was particularly important, since some of the projects involve very vulnerable people and their security must be protected at all times. The availability of payment, forum and other plugins meant we could add additional elements of functionality as Lydia Project need and are able to support them.

Training was always going to be a big part of the new site. Neither of the two new authors had any prior knowledge of WordPress, and one is based in Lithuania. Having built the framework for the site, we waited for her next UK visit and scheduled a couple of half-day training sessions that would fit in with her busy schedule.

Today, as political uncertainty increases in parts of Europe, the work of Lydia Project remains as important as ever. In this anniversary year, various activities are in the pipeline to help raise the profile of the charity and better share the enormous wealth of knowledge that has been accumulated over the years. Additional features are due to be rolled out on the website, like the ability to take donations directly and streamlining communications to make it quicker and easier to update groups in various countries.

I am proud to be able to support Lydia Project on an ongoing basis through One Red Sock Designs. It is my designated charity for 2015.

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