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Knowsley Council Builds Volunteer-Hub Application to support most vulnerable through COVID-19 Crisis

Mendix, a Siemens company and the global leader in low-code for enterprise, supported Knowsley Council to develop a COVID-19 volunteer hub application. The application enables residents to ask for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as residents or businesses to volunteer their time or services to support vulnerable people within the borough.

There are around 7,000 vulnerable residents, including those that are classed in the ‘shielded’ group, reported to be living in Knowsley1 who may need support due to having to self-isolate or may be living alone and unable to access other support networks. Knowsley Council needed to quickly and safely mobilise a way for residents who needed assistance to request help, whilst also matching them up with community volunteers and organisations who could offer support.

The council’s project team, comprising of members from social care, communities, customer services, transformation and IT, used Mendix’s low-code platform to build the online portal, moving from conception to implementation of the application within 24 hours.

The new app has provided co-ordination across the Council’s Volunteer Hub that was established to cater for this group of residents and, in preparation, the Hub had a staffing establishment of 60 public sector officers and community group representatives. Its operating model uses the resources of 26 community groups. Furthermore, 311 members of the public have also volunteered their time to support the Volunteer Hub.

In just over a month, the Volunteer Hub had taken over 4,000 calls enabling volunteers to provide essential support which has included food shopping, dog-walking, and time to talk with self-isolating and lonely residents. In addition, through the volunteer hub, residents can request assistance with picking up and delivering prescriptions and medication as well as requesting specific types of support such as food banks and social care support.

Cllr Jayne Aston, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, says: “Our response to COVID-19 has required us to get new systems and processes up and running as quickly as possible in order to continue to provide essential services and provide support to our communities. Using the Mendix platform, we were able to turn around a support system for our vulnerable residents within a day. We’ve been able to work collaboratively as a council to accelerate our response and manage requests for support as well as logging people or businesses who want to volunteer to support their community.

“With the COVID-19 situation continually evolving, Mendix’s one-click deployment has also allowed us to make application updates painlessly. We are able update the application once or twice a day, safe in the knowledge that we can do so quickly. These benefits have reduced our team’s administration tasks, enabling them to focus on more important tasks during this difficult period.”

Nick Ford, , says: “Public sector transformation has never been so important, with new demands on councils to provide services remotely and faster than ever. Knowsley Council is a great example of a public sector organisation that is doing this successfully, leveraging technology to scale up help and aid quickly. The British public has responded superbly to the COVID-19 pandemic, with so many people wanting to offer help. This application offers an easy way for volunteers to get involved.”