Creating a virtual network of community heroes who can respond to a call to action

This pandemic has created a clear opportunity to bring the country together and enhance the desire of people to make a difference in their communities. But how do we create a positive and lasting national inclusion legacy? With the latest request for people to sign up for the NHS Jab Army, I downloaded the Good Sam Responder app. The app sends you a notification if your services are needed to help someone local who is self isolating or in need of support, allowing you to accept or reject requests. So we know the technology is there for two-way communication from an app provider to a database of registered volunteers to inform them when they are needed in real time, at scale. As we hope to move past the pandemic, we should look to build on this network model and expand it into a platform to support a wide range of public life and community causes. Targeted notifications could be sent to a national database as and when opportunities arise, to drive support for key projects in advance or for an instant response. Whilst the technology to develop the platform could be outsourced, it will be a formal recognition scheme that could drive and incentivise an army of volunteers across the country. By creating an all encompassing, easy to access place for all DBS checked volunteers, people could pick and choose a wide range of opportunities to get involved in. From joining local litter picks, to helping out at local sports clubs, painting community spaces, supporting lonely people and working with a range of organisations who need volunteers, the general public will have a more accessible way to give back to their communities than ever before. Through a points based incentive system, participants would earn points or badges for their volunteering hours. Volunteers, who have logged the most hours or added the most value to society could be formally recognised at a Number 10 reception with media coverage for Britain’s Community Heroes. Such a nationally backed scheme would not only provide organisations with much needed support but also be an effective way to combat loneliness and build stronger communities.




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