Food parcels, financial advice and dog walking: how councils are helping vulnerable people in their communities during the Coronavirus pandemic

Selected councils across the UK have been using digital platforms to help those self-isolating in their homes to receive the care they need.

North Lanarkshire Council, Norfolk County Council and others have been using platforms built on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. North Lanarkshire worked with Agilisys to build its ‘Helping Hands’ platform and Norfolk was guided by Hitachi Solutions throughout the process to create its “Vulnerability Hub” which is built on Power Platform, leveraging its existing investment in Dynamics 365. The councils can now use volunteers, charities, and existing services to deliver vital supplies as well as services such as dog walking and even chats to combat loneliness.

These platforms allow councils to identify and actively contact vulnerable people, through the Government’s lists. Members of the community can then receive food parcels, prescription deliveries, financial advice and other support while shielding themselves from Coronavirus.

Infographic showing council's response to Coronavirus pandemic

As the country moves into the “Test & Trace” phase of the response to the pandemic, the councils hope to work with their partners in using the systems to track any local outbreaks of the virus.

Susan Cloke, Business Manager at North Lanarkshire Council said: “This use of technology has supported the council deliver a large effort from multiple organisations to support residents of North Lanarkshire when they most need it.

“Going through this process of rapidly deploying Helping Hands technology has shown many of us how quickly technology can a be developed to support the community, we’re looking forward to using this technology and more across North Lanarkshire Council as we move into the future.”

North Lanarkshire and Norfolk County Council are just a couple of the councils across the UK that are supporting residents through technology during the coronavirus pandemic. The platforms built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform are now being used by at least 30 councils across Scotland and other parts of the UK, protecting more than 700,000 people.

Ceri Sumner, Director, Community, Information and Learning, Norfolk County Council said: “The Vulnerability Hub has provided us with the tools to provide better care and support for Norfolk residents, ensuring they get what they need when they need it. It allows us to track and analyse activities we and partners across the county are undertaking so we can plan more effectively and deploy our resources efficiently.

“The support from Hitachi Solutions and Microsoft to get us to an implementable solution in under three weeks has been phenomenal. We’re now supporting well over 50,000 people across the County.”

Marie Abery, Director of Dynamics at Microsoft UK, said: “It’s great to see Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform being deployed at speed, we are talking days and weeks, not months. It also shows the flexibility to be able to adapt the platform to other new cases as we return to life as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, to safeguard livelihoods whilst continuing to protect the NHS. Moving forward, these solutions will help councils assess and respond to their local needs.”