Helping Go CIC (a Community Interest Company) was established in 2018 to support Volunteer Car schemes (VCSs) in improving their user of digital technologies and to raise general awareness of volunteer driving.
Helping Go’s application to ShareLab detailed the lack of volunteer drivers for many schemes across Scotland and identified that many existing schemes are 'under the radar’' and tend to be run by the elderly, for the elderly. It was felt that there is an under-utilised resource of working age people willing to offer services, as they have limited visibility of how to do this.
It was felt that many of these challenges could be addressed with technology as an enabler and through developing corporate volunteering partnerships. ShareLab Scotland selected Helping Go as a grantee to see if the team could improve the provision and management of volunteer car journeys by linking drivers, passengers and corporations using a collaborative digital platform.
One Year On
Now, a year on, we look at what they have achieved in their first 12-months of operations.
There are approximately 80 such schemes across Scotland, which range from very small independent schemes, up to schemes which are part of large national organisations such as The Red Cross and The Royal Voluntary Service.
Whilst working for his local car scheme in North Berwick, Helping Go’s Director, Julian Blake, saw the opportunity for a collaborative digital platform to bring together volunteers, car scheme administrators and those requiring lifts.The strategic vision was to modernise the running of VCSs and to increase the number of volunteer drivers through an increased awareness of schemes, and by engaging businesses to provide volunteers under their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.
Julian established a team shortly after receiving ShareLab funding and recognised quickly, that to develop its technology and corporate programme, it would be necessary to partner with an existing VCS, to ensure that any product would be fit for purpose.
Helping Go is delighted to have been partnering with Killin & District Volunteer Car Scheme (KDVCS) for the past six-months, to develop its offering. KDVCS is a relatively recently established voluntary car scheme that serves Killin and Strathyre in Stirlingshire. The scheme currently has 17 volunteer drivers and 53 users, or passengers.
Helping Go and KDVCS have been working together to develop the Helping Go technology, which utilises the Salesforce Not for Profit system. Julian says that working in partnership with KDVCS has really helped to make user centric design be at the core of everything the Helping Go team do.
Initially, Helping Go provided support in terms of best practice in the sector but this quickly evolved into face to face meetings with a view to providing digital support, across a number of areas, including the testing of the new Helping Go technology, which enables volunteers and users to be matched systematically, allowing journeys to be booked on line in a quick, efficient manner.
Helping Go has now developed its App and KDVCS and are currently integrating the Salesforce system into its operations and testing the collaborative platform. Feedback to date has been very positive and Helping Go are committed to learning further lessons from the use of their technology in a live environment.
Helping Go is also currently engaging with businesses to develop their corporate volunteering programme further. Several car schemes have fed back that business volunteering is of interest to them as a way to increase to volunteer driver pool.
It is also a great opportunity for companies to make a real difference to vulnerable people in their local community through their Corporate Social Responsibility schemes. Helping Go is currently identifying its partners for the pilot phase of this initiative. If you are interested in finding out more about this, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping Go believes that their initiative will deliver a real benefit to car schemes and to the health and mental wellbeing of vulnerable users; building stronger, more connected, communities.
Revenue generation and additional funding is now a key priority for the CIC, to enable Helping Go to continue with the momentum they are currently experiencing. A key next step is to develop a business model and business plan to give a clear strategic direction to what the social enterprise will do and to identify how they can help the voluntary transport sector in the longer-term.
Support Helping Go
To support Helping Go or to find out about how you can volunteer in your local area, visit: https://www.helpinggo.org/ or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn:
Helping Go is a Social Enterprise supporting Volunteer Car Schemes.