Foodbanks in Aberdeenshire will be among the first in Scotland to be lent a digital hand by an ‘army’ of tech experts.
The Scottish Tech Army (STA) was established in April by two Edinburgh-based entrepreneurs who had the idea to recruit furloughed or unemployed computing experts to solve various technology-based problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the group helped to upgrade the PPE distribution system used by Voluntary Services Aberdeen (VSA).
Now, they have moved on to foodbanks, which have seen an enormous rise in demand due to the coronavirus crisis – with charity the Trussell Trust forecasting a 61% increase in food parcels needed across its network between now and December.
Working in collaboration with the Trussell Trust, the STA is implementing the roll-out of a new volunteer management system called Assemble, which aims to simplify the interaction between foodbanks and the volunteers who run them.
The new system will be launched initially in Aberdeenshire, Shetland, Cupar and Edinburgh, with plans to introduce the software across the rest of Scotland later this year.
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.”
The STA will work with managers in each food bank to train them on Assemble and will guide volunteers through the associated apps.
Alistair Forbes, founding director of the Scottish Tech Army said: “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.
“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.”