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SPREADING SOME CHRISTMAS CHEER

‘Tis the season of giving, but also receiving! We were delighted to ‘receive’ a big group of local school kids, welcoming them to our headquarters as part of the prize we gave them earlier in the year. Back in the summer, we won an event called ‘Todos Brincam’, created by the Cerebral Palsy Association (APCC). Our team took part in their ‘Everybody Play’ competition and won the chance to give away several amazing prizes. One of them was a set of tickets to the Hemispherium Exploratório de Ciência de Coimbra – an amazing 360-degree movie theatre! We gave all of them to the Director of the Cinfães school group who arranged for the children to visit us and learn about our company.

The CRITICAL Software elves have been playing with toys again! To match our colleagues in Vila Real – who are collecting toys for local charities – our Coimbra team has been transforming toys to make them easier for children with motor difficulties to play with. Working with the APCC, our engineers put their expertise to work and adjusted regular toys so they could be given to children with Cerebral Palsy.

A tree full of wishes? You heard right! With the help of the Make A Wish Foundation, our people have been decorating Christmas trees in or offices with shiny stars and beautiful pictures, drawn by the children of our employees. Each picture and each star represent a donation for the Foundation, that will be doubled by the company then donated. The Make A Wish Foundation arranges ‘dream come true’ experiences for children diagnosed with critical illnesses and we can’t wait to see how much we can raise for them.

Meanwhile, the UK team have been fundraising for Age UK, a charity focused on providing older people with companionship, advice and support. For 1.4 million older people, Christmas isn’t special and many struggle with loneliness. To help, the team has organised events throughout the year, leading up to a huge Christmas auction held at our Southampton office this week. In total, they raised over £450 that will go directly towards the charity’s mission of helping to make the UK a great place to grow older.

We can’t quite believe it’s almost Christmas and that our twentieth year in business is almost up! We’ve had a great time celebrating, organising lots of charitable activities, technical talks and learning opportunities and hope we’ve given something of real value back to the communities around us.

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year.


AUTUMN ACTION

Autumn is here! Can you feel the crispness in the air? As well as enjoying the change in season, we’ve been busy giving back to our local communities, so here’s a quick review...

At CRITICAL Software, we're all about sharing our love of tech. It's no surprise then that one of our experts accepted an invitation to speak about space at a local school. José Borges spoke to an audience of around fifty high-school students who enjoyed his talk so much that according to one of their teachers, they couldn't stop talking about it afterwards! José’s talk caused a lot of interest and many of the students are interested in joining our CRITICAL team when they leave school! Go José!

Another of our team members deserves a shout out too: when Raquel Cruz learned that a nearby institution needed help, she reached out to us. We were delighted to support Raquel and her team of volunteers in helping ‘Lar de São Martinho’, an institution in Coimbra that supports children and young people at risk. Raquel masterminded a collection of food and other items for boxes that could be delivered to Lar de São Martinho to help them in their mission. We are so proud of Raquel and her team.

Something else that we are proud of is being able to sponsor another guide dog puppy! We’ve contributed towards the training of a number of delightful dogs in the past and this year is no exception. Thanks to the energetic efforts of our employees taking part in our fitness fundraising scheme, we’ve been able to support Briosa in his training. Soon, this clever canine will be ready to help people with vision problems feel empowered, providing them with a degree of independence, support and comfort.

Finally, as you may remember, we have a CRITICAL band! As they do most years, our talented band recently entertained the crowds at the Brands Like Bands Festival. This festival helps raise funds for the Corações com Coroa association, a non-profit organisation that promotes equality and helps people in vulnerable situations. The band and all our employees that went along had a great time and we’re really looking forward to next year!

That’s it for now, but we’ll be sure to update you with what we get up to in the run up to Christmas!


SUMMER CELEBRATIONS

It’s sure been a beautiful summer and made all the more lovely by some wonderful news from one of the organisations we support.

Earlier in the season, we contributed towards an event sponsored by the Cerebral Palsy Association (APCC) called ‘Todos Brincam’. Our team took part in their ‘Everybody Play’ competition which is all about raising awareness of how having fun has a positive impact on mental health.

We submitted a short video showing how we have fun at CRITICAL... and we won!

This meant we would receive several great prizes that we could award to people and groups we support. It was an honour to re-gift these prizes, which included educational courses, cool tech and exciting outdoor experiences! Here’s what happened...

We were delighted to award the postgraduate course and short course at ISCAC Coimbra Business School to two hard-working undergraduate students, recommended by the institution itself. We wish them all the best with their courses.

Another prize we got to give away was a set of tickets to the Hemispherium Exploratório de Ciência de Coimbra – an amazing 360-degree movie theatre!

We had sixty tickets in total (which each include an invitation to visit CRITICAL's headquarters) and we gave all of them to the Director of the Cinfães school group. We’re sure the children will have a wonderful time and look forward to seeing them at our office soon.

We also had two other children to treat: two boys who work with APCC, won a cool virtual reality trip which we’re sure they’ll enjoy. To further support this wonderful association, we gave them a tablet too!

We also had four ‘experiences’ to give away, which included outdoor pursuits like canoeing on the Mondego. We gave these to Rafael Lopes, who has collaborated with CRITICAL in the past and also works as a firefighter. Rafael will enjoy these activities with his colleagues, the firefighters of Ansião. We hope they enjoy some well-deserved time off!

We’ve had a busy summer fundraising and, of course, sharing our love of tech! Watch this space to find out more news soon.


What’s New: TechUP, Project Red and Talking Tech

Over the last few weeks we’ve been gaining momentum with our Engineering Change plans. Find out what we’ve been up to in support of all three of our initiatives in this update…

Firstly, as part of our TechUP initiative (where we help people of all ages to build their IT skills), we’ve been supporting programmes that help children and the elderly increase their computer know-how.

We’re supporting a programme called ‘Scratch on Road’ which was set up by two organisations in Portugal (CASPAE and the Higher Institute of Engineering of Coimbra) to help children improve their knowledge of IT. We’ve been sponsoring classes in three schools near our headquarters in Coimbra helping the children benefit from an enhanced learning experience.

When the programme began, the children visited our offices to discover more about who we are and to meet some of our engineers. They then paid us another visit to share what they’d learned so far from the programme.

We’ve also been busy fundraising for Age UK, a charity dedicated to supporting the elderly in the United Kingdom.

We’ve been running a number of events to raise money for Age UK to support them in the valuable work they do across the country. This work includes offering training to help older people increase their computer skills, so that they can make the most of the internet and be safer online, avoiding scams, fake websites and emails.

Talking of computers, as a software company we use a lot of computer equipment! Instead of resigning it to landfill, we try to put it to better use. As part of Project Red, our initiative that’s all about supporting worthy causes, we recently chose to donate our old equipment to Jamie’s Computers.

This social enterprise project is part of The Society of St. James, a charity that supports the vulnerable and homeless in our local area. The computer equipment we’ve donated will be refurbished and then made available for reuse, with any profits made at the point of resale going straight back into the charity to support their work.

Through Project Red we also contributed to an event sponsored by the Cerebral Palsy Association (APCC) called ‘Todos Brincam’. Our team took part in their ‘Everybody Play’ competition which is all about raising awareness of how having fun has a positive impact on mental health.

We submitted a short video showing how we have fun at CRITICAL and won several great prizes. We plan to give these prizes, which include educational courses and exciting outdoor experiences, to individuals and organisations in our community.

Last but not least, there’s our Talking Tech initiative, which is one way we hope to inspire the next generation of engineers!

Our team have again been out and about visiting universities and talking to students studying STEM subjects. Most recently, our engineers talked about the wonderful world of Docker and also busted some myths around ‘microservices’.

Delivering his talk at Escola Superior de Tecnologia de Tomar, Portugal, Rui Nascimento shared his knowledge of Docker, a computer program that performs operating-system-level virtualisation, also known as containerisation. Both students and teachers participated in the session and Rui was even asked about the possibility of delivering a workshop on Docker in the future.

In João Pires’ presentation at Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão de Viseu, Portugal, he focused on the characteristics of microservices, the challenges they present and the best practices needed to be successful when implementing a microservice-based architecture at scale. The students really engaged with the subject matter and João received some great questions about his first Talking Tech talk.

By taking part in our Talking Tech initiative, our engineers can share what they know in the hopes of inspiring a new generation of software experts.

As well as visiting universities to talk about technology, we’ve been mentoring high-school students too. A number of our talented engineers have volunteered to mentor students from local schools, in order to help them increase their knowledge and gain confidence.

Recently, we welcomed back three former mentees who benefitted from the scheme and we were delighted to hear that their experience inspired them and that they were able to put their skills to good use.

That’s all for now but we’ve got lots planned over the summer, so we’ll be back with another update soon! To find out more about our Engineering Change programme, take a look at the community section of our website.

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