Digital mapping vital to charities' swift support during crisis, says report

Greater access to digital mapping technology can significantly improve charities’ ability to work together to respond to crisis and support communities, a report has concluded.

The report, by Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (VCSEP) South West, has looked at the role charity collaborations in the area to tackle food insecurity in the area.

This includes a particular focus on charities' role supporting communities amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among factors in local service delivery detailed is the vital role that digital community mapping approaches have played in helping charities to share information and target areas of greatest need swiftly.

It calls for online community maps more readily available and accessible to help charities in the area to distribute food and identify communities in need.

Among examples it gives of how digital mapping has supported charities in the area is how one local food partnership was able to share a map of local access to food with local community groups and individuals via mobile phone to explain what services are available.

Another voluntary sector organisation in the area, Plymouth Food Aid Network developed a similar ‘community food map’, using the aDoddle platform to map charities, community projects, groups, opportunities and resources.

Blended service delivery

The report also calls for charities to consider more ‘blended approaches’ that combine digital and face to face support.

This has proved particularly useful to charities in the area “particularly learning events and seminars, using face-to-face sessions in combination with remote approaches using packages such as Teams and Zoom”.

It also wants to see more use of “social media applications such as FaceBook and WhatsApp to coordinate and connect volunteers and community activity”.

This report supports the vital inclusion of voluntary and community sector organisations in building a resilient society, said VCSEP director Robyn Knox.

“It also highlights how existing social inequalities can so easily be exacerbated in an emergency situation. We hope to see more inclusion of the voluntary and community sector in local resilience building and in influencing and co-creating positive health outcomes for all.”

In May Charity Times looked at how digital mapping was used by the VCSEP nationally to respond to crisis.

The VCSEP is a network of more than 250 organisations to respond to crisis. It was launched following the Grenfell disaster and London and Manchester terrorist attacks in 2017.

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