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Mutual Aid Group Assist

Support the work of Mutual Aid Groups with an app that aids in food delivery to vulnerable groups impaired by Covid-19 restrictions.

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Mutual Aid Groups (MAG) are online communities that have emerged in the UK following lockdown. They are constituted by volunteers which aid delivering food, prescriptions or offer mental support to those self-isolating with symptoms of Covid-19 or who are shielding, due to being in a vulnerable group. MAG’s have proven invaluable in supporting those that do not get support from the Local Authority, Heath Service or have family and friends that can assist in times of lockdown. 

The MAGs require a coordinated structure to provide deliveries to those in need, particularly food, as currently vulnerable groups often do not have online accounts, computer literacy or are financially in need.  The proposed app will facilitate this function, carefully managing personal data from volunteers and those being assisted, allocating funds to those in need and allowing volunteers that do the deliveries a contactless user experience. This minimises the risk of transmission to those being supported.

What is the need are you focusing on?

There are two needs the app addresses: the management of user’s personal data and reduce risk of transmission between users.

MAG’s agility in matching volunteers with those in need is one of its biggest assets. The aim is to maintain a level of informality which has user data security capabilities. To meet this, the app has two types of volunteers: 

1.   Those that are not vetted by third parties: they don’t have access to the user’s address but using proxy drop off points.

2.   Those that are vetted by third parties: they support those users that need doorstep drop off point.

To minimise transferring the risk form the volunteer to the vulnerable resident, a contactless shopping system is needed. The app allows to:

1.   Fill in shopping list for users online

2.   Reducing queuing by liaising click and collect with registered shops.

3.   Having an online account with funds managed by donations or vouchers.

4.   Collecting payment and depositing to an online account.

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Identifying a gap that needs to be addressed

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

An app to support contactless food delivery to those in self-isolation is needed to provide long-term and secure assistance to those impaired by Covid-19 restrictions. The app will be developed by engaging MAGs, their users and securing partnerships with grocery shops and food suppliers to allow contactless collection. This will reduce risk of contamination and provide data security to vulnerable groups. The app supports the efforts of established community groups.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

We believe this app will assist in the MAG’s management of aid during what will be a prolonged period of social distancing which is impacting disproportionately on a vulnerable population. Shopping for essential goods is critical. The app aims to reduce the risk of transmission to the at-risk demographic in need and to help MAG volunteers to carry out their job more efficiently and safely via an app that promotes contactless support. The timeline for impact will rely on technical support to develop the app, however, our current involvement with MAGs can expediate prototypes being tested. Also, the established community base can facilitate linkages with grocery suppliers which are already reaching out. While the scheme is targeted for UK groups, we envision this app can be used by other community organisations internationally. This meets the Vodafone Americas Foundation Funding as it is an app specifically to communicate with vulnerable populations and provide a basic service.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Matillana & Yeung

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

Matillana & Yeung is a London based design collaborative that works across multi-platform and multi-scalar projects that tackle social change via innovation. We deliver design solutions that span from a scale of urban planning, architecture and product design, whether built or virtual. We actively seek opportunities that allow for interrogative design thinking. Our collaborations explore how modern technology can be designed to improve local communities. We see this as an element of design born from the digital age we live in and critical to improving the quality of everyday life. The Co-Directors are engaged with local community groups and educational institutions to maintain a social focus and researched-based approach to our work.

What is your profession?

Architect, planner, designer.

Where are you located (country)?

United Kingdom

Where are you located (region)?

  • Europe

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Activist/Community Leader/Organizer
  • Designer(UX/CX/Design Research)
  • Technology
  • Architecture, planning, design

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 0-10

How old is your business/company?

  • Less than 1 year old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Business

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

Connecting MAG user needs with partners within food delivery, funding as donations or additional financial and technical support to provide long-term assistance to vulnerable groups.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

Linkages with local businesses to facilitate sourcing of goods and management of external funding, including securing this funding, to assist those in long term need.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

Our current involvement is in coordinating and delivering aid as part of a Westminster MAG in London. This has highlighted the gap that the app aims to bridge. We will draw on this experience to help develop the pivot as a collaboration between other groups based on their needs.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?


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