At the end of November 2020, it was announced that BwD would receive funding for families that would be affected by Covid-19 over the winter period.
This support would include food provisions, in the form of hot meals, healthy snacks or food parcels, winter clothes and bedding for families in need and assistance with energy bills or white goods.
Working in collaboration with both Childrens Services and Public Health colleagues the Digital Team designed and built 2 new services on the Digital Customer Platform;
- Application for Winter Support Grant
It was decided that instead of simply issuing vouchers or cash payments to residents to spend on food it would be beneficial to involve our local charities and partners that are already supporting our communities.
These groups were invited by email to apply online for the Winter Support Grant. They had to give details on their current offering and how additional funding could either expand or enhance this. They also had to prove that they were able to monitor spending going forward and report this back to the Council as part of the criteria.
- Winter Support for Families
The 2nd part of the service was to design and build a referral form that could be used for professionals to put forward families that BwD may not have otherwise been aware of. Charities such as Rummage Rescuers were contacted to assist with providing white goods and furniture.
It was a race against time to get this part of the service live before schools finished for the Christmas break as teachers were the 1st professionals that this was rolled out to. This was so we could capture any families that may be in need over the school holidays. The Resident Help Hub team then took on the role to contact the families and signpost to additional services and support areas.
This meant that we could reuse an existing team of staff and workflow within our Digital Customer Portal that was created in spring 2020 during our 1st lockdown. The Resident Help Hub has since become a permanent service with BwD and has helped over 4,000 individuals since it started.
Both these services were turned around within 3 weeks by using Agile methodology within the Digital Team and collaborating closely with the business.
Maria Nugent, Early years and Support Service Manager in Childrens Services said
“The Digital team and their specialist advice have enabled the local authority to quickly develop a robust digital referral pathway for families to ensure they will be supported over the winter months.”
Laura Hodkinson, Head of Digital Transformation said
“This is a great example of how scalable our Digital Customer Portal platform is; how the skills of our Design Team are assisting different areas of the business, and how Agile working is enabling us to meet new and challenging requirements quickly and effectively “
Other areas where the funding has been utilised are the provision of free school meals throughout the Christmas and upcoming February 2021 half terms. This is for the 6,644 children and young people who are eligible for this during term time.
A new pilot being introduced is the Family Winter Food Box Scheme. This is for families self-isolating where parents are having to take time off unpaid to look after their child/ren. This scheme has been developed after feedback via our Test and Trace team that there are many parents facing a reduction in income and are struggling to afford food and bills.