A group of technology companies, including a leading proptech firm, has joined forces to launch an initiative to keep neighbours connected during the pandemic.

CoronaFriend was developed in under two weeks and puts volunteers in touch with locals who are self-isolating to help them with everyday tasks such as shopping and cooking. 

The project is the brainchild of Orla Shields, co-founder of proptech business Kamma, and social entrepreneur Phil Hewinson, who were inspired by the #ViralKindness campaign launched by Cornwall copywriter Becky Wass.

Ms Wass designed a postcard that allows people to exchange contact details and offer their support to self-isolating neighbours, whether they require their medication to be picked up, their mail to be posted, or simply a friendly phone call.

Ms Wass devised a plan to unite neighbours in quarantine.
Photo: Becky Wass

By posting them through letterboxes, the postcards ensure that vulnerable people are receiving the support they need while social distancing measures are being upheld.

“If just one person feels less lonely or isolated when faced with this pandemic, then I’ll feel better,” Ms Wass wrote in an online post that has been shared over 9,000 times.

The #ViralKindness campaign gained traction on social media and caught the attention of a global audience. “I’ve even had a friend request from someone in Australia who’ll be sharing the cards in the Perth area,” Ms Wass said in an interview with Cornwall Live.

The #ViralKindness campaign has gone global.
Photo: Becky Wass

CoronaFriend, “designed to support the overwhelming community response to the virus”, builds on the concept of the #ViralKindness campaign by allowing users to take ownership of a particular street in their neighbourhood using sophisticated geospatial imaging technology.

Users are required to print out a leaflet similar to the #ViralKindness postcard and distribute it in their local area. They can then log their activity on an interactive map which displays data for each street in the UK, colour-coded according to whether it’s been fully covered, partially covered, or is in need of assistance. 

The idea is for the places that haven’t received help to be flagged so that locals can identify who requires support, coordinate efforts, and address the needs in their community, ensuring that nobody is left without assistance. 

CoronaFriend ensures at-risk groups are offered the support they need.
Photo: CoronaFriend Twitter

“By tracking activity on the CoronaFriend map, people who want to support their communities can easily identify where other volunteers are already active and, importantly, see where help is still needed. This reduces duplication of effort and ensures that no one is overlooked in these difficult times,” the founders explained. 

CoronaFriend provides volunteers with a simple and easy way of working together to support vulnerable and elderly neighbours. 

The website has been built with the help of several companies including Kamma, Orange Doodle, Would You Rather Be, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Geovation, and Ordnance Survey.

“In the face of the appalling human cost of the Coronavirus, the outpouring of community support has been so inspiring, and we wanted to do what we could to help,” Ms Shields said. 

“I’m so proud of my team for working tirelessly to use our expertise to bring structure to the massive volunteering effort.” 

Click here to get involved in the CoronaFriend project.

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About Author

Zayna is an events content producer at Salesforce Ben, a freelance writer at LeadGeneratorsDigital, and a journalist at Good News Shared. She hopes to cast light on the ripple effect of small acts of kindness that lead to great waves of change.

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