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End of Day Update 24/03/2020

Today alone, redditchsupport.net has handled 94 requests for help, and since Saturday has enlisted 60 local volunteers using a screening form. So far, 87 messages of thanks have been sent to NHS staff working at the Alex.

This is not necessarily an update about the broader situation – for thatr you need to click here, it’s intended as a local update and probably of more interest to people helping to run the Support Redditch Emergency Network website at supportredditch.net. I am a strong believer in transparency and that in times like this sometimes a bit of ‘over communication’ is a good thing because it helps us to avoid gaps and miscommunications.

I would apologies for the length of the post, but we’re all on lockdown now so plenty of time to read longform material 😉

By the numbers

Requests Handled

94+

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Combining telephone calls with online requests for help we have handled around 94 requests and counting. Yesterday there were 0 online requests for help, today there has been 23. That gives you a flavour of how much things have ramped up.

We are focussing on the most vulnerable groups right now – the over 70s and those self-isolating for medical reasons. Examples of engagements include situations where elderly people used to get shopping for their neighbour and have now had to stop. Another one doesn’t need a prescription collecting for 4 weeks, but is desperate to ensure continuity of medication and is trying to put plans in place.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of requests are for food parcels. One 85 year resident was extremely low on bread, milk and loo roll. They had avoided the crowds at the supermarket having seen them on the TV and was waiting for things to quieten down.

As you can see, demand is up. Some say it shouldn’t be spiking this soon – that people should have at least a week’s worth of food in the house and that people are just trying to blag free food. That’s not our experience – and we do talk to the people in need. Our operators work with community groups dealing with people all the time. The needs are genuine, and they’re here right now.

Website Sessions

3,700+

Sat 21 Mar – Tue 24 Mar 2020 (4 days)

Over 3,700 people have visited the website since it was established on Saturday, generating just over 16,000 pageviews.

The two spikes in traffic were related to the site being mentioned on Facebook (which remains the main source of traffic) and then in the Redditch Advertiser who highlighted our hotspot map.

The map on the Support Redditch website was helpful – it drove volunteer registrations. Whenever it was reported about on various Facebook groups or in the press we’d see a subsequent spike in volunteers and messages of thanks to the staff at the Alex.

However, now that lock-down is in place it’s pointless to continue with it now.

It was there to help people take the situation seriously and realise they need to stay at home.

Now we are all being told to stay at home there’s no need to continue with a local map.

We will now focus resources into the enhancement of the Provider Directory, volunteer advice, and the various local exchange services we are working on.

This was always our position – that we would keep the map under constant review and respond to a fast-moving set of circumstances and the overall conditions of the day.

At the time of writing, over 300 people voted on whether or not the public should have access to localised information with around 90% in support. The debate over smart data being used to create localised lockdowns instead of nationwide ones is moot right now, but will come to the fore again once this current outbreak is over.

Volunteers

60+

Sat 21 Mar – Tue 24 Mar 2020 (4 days)

We’ve had over 60 volunteers come forward since launching on Saturday afternoon – that’s really not bad.

The Safest Possible Volunteer Experience

The community groups we are working with are listed in the Provider Directory with more being added every day. Some are new to the sector, and we welcome them, but some are very experienced in this field, especially around safeguarding, DBS checks and data protection. We’re part of a solid network of community groups who know how to get things done.

When people volunteer to become a community volunteer here in Redditch we ask them about DBS certificates, including asking them to provide a copy for inspection. We ask for an ID photo so we can generate cards. We ask for risk factors and we check if they have any needs/requirements/disabilities.

Data is stored securely in the cloud behind protected accounts and only shared with the people who need to see it to deliver services at this time of crisis.

Corporate Structure

At the moment, we are an unincorporated organisation. We’re drafting a constitution to keep us going until our CIO registration is complete in the coming weeks/months.

You can view our draft charitable objects here:

You can also donate to the cause – we’ve set up a PayPal account for now. Money donated is held here for now until our bank account is set up.

For now, the key committee members are:

  • Councillor Mike Rouse, Redditch Borough Council
  • Nikki Farnes, Emmanuel Church/Ecumenical Centre
  • Alex Powell, Disability Support Project
  • Gary Roskell, BARN
  • Liz Williams, Reach CIC
  • Ian Johnson, Church Hill Big Local
  • Sharon Harvey, Redditch Labour Party
  • Andy Thompson, Redditch Liberal Democrats
  • Emma Marshall, Redditch Conservatives

Please don’t forget this organisation was set up in a rush to respond to the breaking crisis as it became clear that no statutory bodies in the area were prepared for this situation, and they all lacked the resilience and agility to mobilise quickly. The community has stepped in to fill this gap, and will continue to do so until told otherwise by an order from a proper authority.

Personally, I’m delighted this is cross-party cross-community effort. A real coming together in a crisis. The road to these things can often be bumpy and this was no exception, but everyone involved with the project so far as left all the baggage at the door and I hope it stays there for a very long time. We’re working really well together and I’d love to see that continue long after this has blown over.

Working with Partners and Agencies

We are very keen to work with the Councils that cover Redditch. All of our data is held under a policy that enables us to share details with the councils who are supposed to be helping with the deployment of food parcels. As soon as they are ready to deploy, we are ready to help.

Why we don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account

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35% traffic came from Facebook – the rest from other sources.

The view at the moment – and this may change as we’ve not really discussed it yet – is that we are an emergency committee, not a communications committee. Our job is to deliver aid and facilitate relief as detailed in our draft objectives. These and the position regarding comms infrastructure will be discussed soon – over video conference of course.

A key consideration is the fact that not everyone is on Facebook. Its algorithms mean our posts would not be seen quickly enough in an emergency unless we paid big money to push them into people’s feeds – money we are spending on food parcels right now.

The need is bigger than what is expressed on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. This website is for everyone as the most accessible medium for the delivery of tools and services.

Any questions?

Leave a comment under this post and we’ll get back to you. You can also email privately to info@supportredditch.net

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