COMMUNITIES SELF-ORGANISING TO SUPPORT VULNERABLE MEMBERS
Communities everywhere are self-organising to support vulnerable members. Groups are forming to deliver food and prescriptions, shops and eateries are providing home service, supermarkets are opening at special hours for NHS staff and the elderly, and more. However, many vulnerable people are not on Facebook or even email, so do not know what is available, and community services need somehow to manage capacity.
How can people put online what is available locally, share the work of keeping it up to date, let people request services, share the workload of provision, and gather feedback on current issues? Web groups / pages have limited functionality for this, plus they are usually maintained by one or two people who can't know or do everything and might get ill themselves.
The Big Issue initiative Social Echo is looking into the possibility of providing digital hubs to communities that are self-organising against coronavirus. Digital hubs from this closed project have been put back online for demonstration purposes (Frome, Birmingham). Note that the test hubs are from 2018 so make no mention of COVID-19 - they simply show how the tech works. Note also that the platform has open REST interfaces for integration with other services.
If your community would like its own digital hub or you would like to help with this initiative, please email email@example.com.
TOWN DIGITAL HUB
Manage life issues with local help
The free web platform for volunteer supported wellness planning
Andrew Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, 2014
Whether seen from an economic or social perspective, volunteering is big business, with annual turnover well into three-figure billions. But it is a well-hidden jewel, whose social worth is rarely the subject of a public valuation.
Social Care Institute for Excellence, 2016
Taken together, [the Care Act, Children and Families Act, and NHS Five Year Forward View in 2014] form a policy programme which promotes citizenship and community as the foundation on which local health and social care systems are built. Volunteering and social action are at the heart of this programme.
Help others learn to self-manage their wellness
Show people how to create a holistic wellness plan from local resources and share it with their personal support network
Problems such as isolation, weight/fitness, criminality, and employability often have complex underlying causes that people cannot redress unaided. Social prescribing and other public sector outreach schemes may recommend community assets such as coffee mornings and clubs but, without addressing such causes, clients in the most need will continue to have poor quality of life and make extended use of public services.
The problem is particularly acute for people who are transitioning from a major life change such as bereavement or discharge from an institution (armed force, prison, hospital, children's home, detention centre, or educational establishment). Services to aid such transition have limited resources, which they could make better use of by focusing less on delivery of one-off recommendations and more on coordination of sustained volunteer support.
Social Return on Investment from advocacy is 3 times the maximum from social prescribing, but professional advocacy is expensive. Town Digital Hub is a web platform that unlocks the massive potential of volunteer resources by enabling peer-to-peer support in self-management of wellness. Volunteer advocates, with professional coordination and safeguarding, help others create a holistic personal wellness plan from community assets and other resources including professional services, share it with people/organisations that support them, track progress using standard self-assessment tools, and provide feedback on the effectiveness of resources for specific purposes.
People need less and less support over time, in many cases going on to coach others in wellness planning. Data from wellness plans is aggregated/anonymised to inform smart investment into local infrastructure. Community, professional providers, and commissioners become part of a virtuous circle of community engagement, resilience, and regeneration.
Deal with your personal life issues effectively
Make a holistic wellness plan that embeds you into a caring, sharing local support network
Measure your progress towards wellness
See your wellness journey in simple pictures
Share your wellness plan with those who support you
Work together effectively with all those who help you
Help others with their own wellness
Help other people make wellness plans and get involved with your community
Give your community feedback on your experiences
Help everyone improve what is available locally by removing gaps and overlaps
Maintain online information about community assets and volunteering opportunities with which you are involved
and reduce administration costs by offering online services such as tickets for appointments/events