Food banks across Scotland are to receive a digital boost from the Scottish Tech Army (STA) this winter, with volunteer tech experts supporting the roll-out of a volunteer management system at food banks across the country.
The new system aims to help food banks manage shift patterns, rotas, and communications, and ultimately help them manage the rise in use caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, a report released by the Trussell Trust found a large rise in people needing to use a food bank in its network for the first time.
The report’s analysis – which was conducted by Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research with support from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research – estimated that food banks will hand out six emergency food parcels a minute this winter across the UK, more than 8,500 per day.
STA is working with the Trussell Trust, which supports 137 food banks right across Scotland, to implement the roll-out of volunteer management system Assemble to assist and facilitate interactions between food banks and their volunteers.
Laura Ferguson, operations manager for Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “Communities throughout Scotland have shown enormous resilience in helping more people than ever before during the pandemic.
“But COVID-19 has led to a huge rise in the number of new people needing to use a food bank for the first time – this isn’t right.
“In the short-term, tools such as Assemble will help food banks in our network with administrative systems, allowing time to be freed up so teams can focus on helping people who need support the most.
“And in the meantime, we’ll continue to campaign for a future where everyone has enough money to put food on the table.”
Scottish Tech Army support
STA will support the launch of the system initially in Edinburgh, Cupar, Aberdeenshire, and Shetland, with plans to roll out the software nationwide before the end of the year.
The STA will work with managers in each food bank to train them in Assemble and guide volunteers through the associated apps.
There will also be assistance for those without a smartphone, ensuring all volunteers are able to benefit from the system.
Since its launch in April this year, the Scottish Tech Army has seen more than 1,000 volunteers sign up, all of whom are aiding the delivery and support of more than 150 projects across Scotland.
Alistair Forbes, founding director of the STA, said: “Food banks provide an essential service to thousands of families across Scotland and we are proud to be supporting the Trussell Trust in the roll out of its software.
“We hope to create a long-term partnership that will see STA volunteers work closely with this vital charity, supporting communities across Scotland going forward.”
Forbes added: “We’ve been working on a range of projects across the country to help organisations implement digital solutions to help overcome the challenges they have faced during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“As we face changing restrictions coming into winter, including local lockdowns, there is still a huge job to be done but there is a strong commitment from everyone at the Scottish Tech Army to continue the work we have started.”
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