At the beginning of May, the number of new COVID-19 cases in England swung between more than 6,000 and just under 4,000. Fortunately, by May 16, community support services, like those in the town of Redditch, appeared to have paid off, as the curve tapered to less than 2,000 new cases.
This grassroots organization provides dynamic community support services for the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
Offering Emergency Community Support Services: Considering Various Options
“We had this emergency hit us like everyone else all across the world,” said Rouse, who worked in software development before moving into politics. “We wanted to set up something that was structured in a way that enabled us to grow quickly and provide services safely with insurance and legal liability cover in place.”
Because of the need for social distancing, the emphasis was on connecting the community to online services. This included food delivery and online shopping, with goods shipped directly to the consumer’s doors.
Of course, the borough’s government officials weren’t the only locals who wanted to provide community support services. Almost immediately, various Facebook groups popped up offering help to those in need.
Setting up a Facebook group may be quick and easy, but, as Rouse notes, they don’t come with public liability insurance or any legal protection.
“A lot of people, very well-meaning, would be set up in a way that actually — as this thing went on for longer and longer and longer — would be causing them more issues,” Rouse said. “I needed something I could set up and plug in instantaneously. I didn’t want to spend any time configuring it. I didn’t want to mess around with too many shortcodes.”
Rouse needed a point-and-click system that could be accessed anywhere from any device.
Enter GravityView, Gravity Flow and Gravity Forms.
GravityView: A Straightforward + Flexible Solution
The key to this powerful integration of data collection and visualization was the flexibility to quickly adjust it to the changing needs of the community.
“We don’t know whether people are going to be struggling with prescription collections of medication because they can’t get to the pharmacy. We don’t know whether they’re going to be struggling to get food from the supermarkets because you know the queues are going to be massive, and it’s going to be a problem for them,” Rouse said. “We don’t know how many people are going to be struggling.”
Rouse explained that in an emergency response situation, like the one his community is facing, he needs a system where he can simply click a button to change how the community support services function.
The Support Redditch website keeps things simple with Gravity Forms.
Using GravityView to Indicate Where Help is Needed
Users can indicate if they are there for help or to help others:
Those who need help can choose among six primary options:
- Request a food parcel
- Personal shopping service
- Prescription collection service
- Get help with baby/toddler items
- Domestic abuse referral
- Help with bereavement
These categories lead people to a Gravity Form that makes it possible for volunteers to step in.
“There was a period where, only for a matter of days, we were collecting the data using Gravity Forms, and that was fine because email notifications were coming through,” Rouse said.
But then questions came in from volunteers who needed more information to help others. Staffers at the call center needed details on logged calls.
GravityView’s embedded forms were the answer.
Setting up a Prescription Collection Service with GravityView
When Support Redditch launched, they didn’t anticipate prescription collection becoming a primary part of the community support services they offered.
However, once they identified the need, they were able to update Gravity Forms the same evening. The new prescription collection service was up and running by the next morning. Rouse said if he had coded it from scratch, rather than using WordPress, it would have resulted in delays as code was reworked to meet the changing needs of the situation.
“It was all made possible because of what we’ve been able to do with GravityView,” Rouse said.
For Support Redditch’s new prescription collection service, Gravity Forms gathers all the pertinent data for a prescription pickup. Then, it goes into the system as an unclaimed request that can be assigned to a volunteer.
The volunteer receives an email notifying them of the update. They can indicate when they’ll pick up the prescription on the volunteer dashboard, and add any pertinent details using the note function.
GravityView: A Solution That’s Up and Running in Minutes
As Rouse explains, the simplicity and flexibility of Gravity Forms and GravityView results in a system that requires few “pro tips”.
“Installing Gravity Forms and GravityView is straightforward: plugin, license activation, and away you go,” Rouse says.
“That’s what was important to me in terms of an emergency network. We are dealing with people that are hungry; they need medication, and so on. I need something that’s going to get me going ASAP. And, GravityView did that because there was no hassle in terms of the installation.”
For Rouse, the most powerful feature of the system is the ability to drop forms directly into GravityView, sharing vital information quickly. This is what allows volunteers to add important notes to an individual’s file.
“When you realize you can embed a form within a View, that’s really the moment of Zen,” Rouse says. “Because you’re able to write back into a form that you’ve just embedded in view.”
Support Redditch’s efforts are serving about ten people a day, though that number is increasing as people become more aware of the community support service.
“I would implore anybody that’s looking to do emergency work, that’s looking to do crisis-based work where they need a web service set up very quickly to get yourself WordPress, Gravity Forms, and GravityView because that’s a magic formula that will mean you can go to market and start running your services the very next day,” Rouse says.
Final Thoughts: Town Taps GravityView for Community Support Services During COVID-19 Crisis
During any crisis, being able to act swiftly is critical. We are fortunate to live in the modern era where we have the technological tools to set up community support services at our fingertips. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, utilizing virtual tools to connect volunteers with those in need can literally save lives.
Is your organization ready to create a platform to support your community? Try out GravityView today — we’d love to see what you create!