Leeds City Council has joined forces with third sector organisations to deliver vital services to people in need across the city via a network of volunteers and community hubs. Anyone needing help or support during the Covid-19 emergency can call a helpline where they will then be matched with one of the thousands of local volunteers.
The Community Care Volunteer Programme has seen over 8,000 volunteers offer their support to help the vulnerable in Leeds. Volunteers can sign-up to offer practical support such as shopping deliveries, preparing meals, dog walking, making check-in phone calls or as an informal volunteer within their own neighbourhood in more general ways.
This help hub will coordinate and facilitate access for those seeking or offering help. Local volunteer organisations and the city council have teamed up to create this helpline that will assist more efficiently. Read more here
Espoo is testing a smartbot, a learning artificial intelligence application, to answer questions in more than a hundred languages on the city website. The smartbot is available around the clock and can serve more than 100,000 users at the same time. The bot has been added to the helpline already offering guidance in 16 languages. Read more here and here
Following the confinement rules established in Osmangazi, Turkey, people above 65 years and below 20 years old are prohibited to go out, apart from emergencies. To provide people at home with food and other essential items, the municipality offers a delivery service. More than 30,000 families have ordered goods via email or telephone, while the authorities have proactively delivered basic goods to over 130,000 families. Read more here (in Turkish)
Volunteers in the city of Poznan, Poland, go shopping for the elderly who have to stay at home during the COVID-19 confinement. Seniors over 60 years old who live alone and people with disabilities can get food, hygiene products and medicines through this service. The city has also established the ‘kindness line’ where elderly citizens of Poznan can call and talk about their concerns in the isolation. You can read more here and here (in Polish)
Madrid is reaching out to those who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus pandemic to offer them free counseling via telephone. In this conversation, professionals will establish strategies for those affected to share their pain and will recommend that, through technology, they connect with their family and friends to remember the deceased person and thus alleviate grief in circumstances of isolation and loneliness. After a few days from the first call, subsequent evaluations will be carried out to reinforce the basic strategies to mitigate their pain. Read more (in Spanish) here.
Bordeaux is now operating several hotlines for people differently affected by coronavirus. These include a mental health support hotline, COVIDPSY33, from 10.00-18.00 Monday to Friday; a specific phone service for those grieving the death of a loved one; and a phone line for healthcare professionals to receive support and advice.
Zagreb has opened a free hotline available to citizens 24 hours a day, where all relevant coronavirus information can be obtained. The telephone numbers of the Andrija Štampar Teaching Institute of Public Health, one of the public health institutions funded by the City of Zagreb, on the danger of coronavirus infection, are also available to the citizens from 8.00-20.00h. A crisis psychological counseling hotline is also available. This is in parallel to a free hotline opened by the Croatian Red Cross for psychosocial support.
Bristol is keeping information flowing about coronavirus and the local response. Internally, this takes the shape of regular bulletins for staff, to make sure that everyone is on the same page; externally this takes the form of a free telephone hotline open seven days a week for vulnerable residents, video updates from the mayor (see them here), clear information in several languages (watch it here).
Toulouse is distributing food to isolated elderly and disabled persons. The food kits are delivered every Wednesday by teams of civil servants from the municipality, and contain bread, tin cans, hard cheese, fruits, compote and biscuits.
The beneficiaries of the the scheme were identified and registered by a senior service hotline, and by a census established by the municipal services with the help of an associative network, social landlords and social workers at the psychiatric hospital. Read more (in French) here.
With families spending unusually much time together bound in their homes, the incidents of domestic violence have spiked in the past weeks and days. The German city of Dusseldorf has therefore extended its accommodation facilities, shelters and protection services for women and children in need. For people suffering emotionally as a result from the corona restrictions, psychological counselling is offered via telephone hotlines.
To support families in the current situation, the City of Leipzig has set up a phone hotline, available from 8am – 6pm, 7 days a week. Experienced personnel from the fields of childcare, school social work and youth work answer questions ranging from how to keep children occupied to Corona-related rules affecting families. They also provide educational counselling. The goal is to offer low-threshold support to families in a time of restricted social contacts. Read more here
Toulouse city and Toulouse Metropole have launched a new online platform, available to all citizens with internet access, which offers mutual assistance to take care of fragile people. Cities are able to publish both requests for help and/or areas in which they are able to help. An already existing service in the city in a 24/7 telephone service and an additional one for senior citizens only. Read more here and here
Nice has opened a new reception site for the homeless and updated old ones by adding protection and hygiene measures recommended by the health authorities. Read more (in French) here. The city has also teamed up with nearby cities to launch a regional telephone hotline for psychological support to residents. Read more (in French) here. For those with a prescription, medical workers, or people who are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus, two drive-through test centres have also been set up. Read more (in French) here.
A special hotline for those with disabilities has also been set up, and an app through which the disabled can get information and ask for help. The city has made available tools like automatic voice transcription and sign language to make sure that everyone can stay up to date on the latest news and advice. Read more (in French) here.
Nice has launched several measures to tackle domestic violence during the lock down. These include a telephone hotline and email address for reporting known or suspected cases, an awareness raising campaign, a partnership with pharmacies that welcome female victims of violence, and provision of emergency accommodation for women who wish to leave their homes. Read more (in French) here.
Bamberg is matching those especially vulnerable to COVID-19 with volunteers from their neighbourhood who can help them to run errands or walk the dog. The offer works by phone, and no internet access is required. Read more (in German) here.
Small companies and freelance workers in Stuttgart can get help via a new telephone hotline during the corona crisis. Experts from the fields of management consultancy, law, coaching or health offer advice about the virus, hygiene and work regulations and information on economic aid such as grants, support programmes, loans or short-time work.
Gijon is thinking about women who live with their abuser 24 hours a day during the confinement. With the campaign ‘¿Es violento? Llama tú por ella’ (Is he violent? Call for her) mayor Ana González Rodríguez calls on neighbors to denounce situations of gender violence they’re aware of. Read more (in Spanish) here
Elderly people in Madrid who are isolated in confinement due to COVID-19 can call a free phone number and have a conversation with a volunteer. The project ‘Minutos en Compañía’ – ‘minutes in company’ – has been initiated by the Madrid City Council in collaboration with the organisation ‘Adopta un Abuelo’ – ‘Adopt a Grandparent’. More than 100 volunteers are taking the calls via a switchboard and an app on their mobile phones at home. Read more here (in Spanish)
The Ljubljana Health Centre has ensured psycho-social support for anyone potentially struggling with the current epidemiological situation. The support is offered via phone or email. It has also been offered by some non-governmental organisations whose programs are co-financed by the city of Ljubljana.
Ljubljana has connected with a network of local volunteers who want to make everyday life easier for the elderly. The people involved are workers and volunteers from the Home Care Institute (Zavod za oskrbo na domu) and Ljubljana’s cultural public institutes (e.g. theatres, galleries). From Monday to Friday, the volunteer project manager is using the Home Care Institute Ljubljana’s phone number to collect the contact information of those who wish to be called by volunteers. The volunteers talk to the elderly about their jobs and about how the city’s cultural institutes work, as well as about normal everyday things, in order to help the elderly overcome their feelings of loneliness.
Dusseldorf is turning to the internet and telephone to education, sport and support. A new hotline for the elderly and other high risk populations is available for getting help and advice. Read more (in German) here. A new e-learning platform provided by the city allows teachers to provide their pupils with learning material and online classes. Read more (in German) here. And the municipal department of sport, which usually offers free outdoor classes in Dusseldorf’s parks, has launched online workouts that people can enjoy from home. Read more (in German) here.
In order to keep up with testing its citizens for coronavirus infections, Dusseldorf has established a drive through testing centre. People can now make appointments via the coronavirus information line and get tested without getting out of their cars. They will be given the results 24 to 36 hours later. This service is provided only for people working in healthcare, in public safety jobs and critical infrastructure. The drive-throughs are supposed to run over 100 tests per day and should relieve Düsseldorf’s diagnostic centre and hospitals. Read more about the drive-through (in German) here.
The diagnostic centre, running alongside the drive-through, was opened in order to relieve the burden of general medical practitioners in the local health system. Appointments for a test are only issued via the coronavirus information line. Read more (in German) here.
The helpline has run 24/7 since the end of February to provide general information on the virus and also coordinate appointments for the testing of possibly infected citizens in the diagnostic centre. Read more (in German) here.
Poznan is working to make sure that people have the best and most up-to-date information on COVID-19. This includes a special website for foreigners, available in Russian, English and Ukrainian, and a special phone helpline for Ukrainians The City opened a special helpline where they can call and ask for help and information. Learn more about it here.
The mayor is also keeping contact with locals through a daily Facebook live video confrerence with live translation in sign language. He presents the most recent news about a situation in the city and actions undertaken by local authorities and also answers questions from viewers. You can see the video conferences here.
Other information on topics like public transport and childcare is made available on a website here (in Polish).
The VinclesBCN Service is adapting to COVID-19 and creating a health channel to answer questions from its 2,400 elderly users, who live alone. The health channel includes 21 COVID-19 information groups into which the users have been divided, through which the health team will pass on information that may be of interest to them concerning the pandemic.
With VinclesBCN, users can manage their social relationships by using a simple application installed on a tablet or smartphone. The profile of VinclesBcn users is a person over 65 years old, who is a registered resident of Barcelona and feels lonely. The 40 Social Services centers in the city are the main referrers, although the health service also refers people to the service.
Belgian municipalities are dealing with the large increase in volunteering through a platform called ‘Give a Day’ which collaborates with local governments so that anyone in the country can find a volunteering opportunity near them. Read more (in French or Dutch) here.
The deputy mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís, announced on Tuesday that the city council has launched a campaign against gender violence with the name #NoEstásSola to give visibility to the suffering of women who live with their abuser 24 hours a day in the period of confinement by the coronavirus.
The campaign seeks to remind victims that protection tools continue to function during the state of alarm. In addition, it will have images and videos on social networks that will include the contact details of the victim care services. Women who are assaulted can leave home to access network resources for victims of gender violence. Learn more here.
Many Poznan citizens want to help in fight against COVID-19. To coordinate these volunteers, the city is has prepared a form which people can use to declare what type of help they can provide and to which hospital. The city then uses this information to prepare workers to receive products and coordinate when a particular person can bring their help. Read more here.
Bratislava has created a support network targeting the needs of the elderly living alone. This works through a phone line via which the elderly can address operators with inquiries or help requests. Many seniors were personally informed about the beginning of its operation via SMS. Local volunteers are also raising awareness of the service by distributing an information leaflet created by the municipality door-to-door.
This network is meant to compliment the city’s social campaign ‘Help your neighbour’, encouraging healthy adults to help older people in their community with shopping and other needs while strictly respecting enhanced hygienic measures.
In order to support people’s mental health, the city launched a free, online programme that allows people to ask direct advice from psychologists on how to handle problems that COVID-19 has brought to their lives. This is offered to people of all ages in Polish, English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, German and French. Read more here
The city council is using its existing portal for citizen participation to give people a space to propose new initiatives, and for associations to share what they are already doing to improve the quality of life in Madrid while maintaining the current situation of alarm. Read more here
Those aged over 65 are offered a flatrate taxi fare of €1 when travelling to hospitals. Other measures include free parking to ensure, especially vulnerable people, do not have to leave to move their vehicles. The city is also making sure that elderly people receive meals at home. Read more here and here
The #OurCityHelps platform has been shared free of charge with municipalities across Belgium. It provides an online place to bring together volunteers able to help out and requests for help, including things like doing groceries, chatting over the phone or walking a dog. The City of Leuven was the first city to adopt the platform. Read more here.
Zaragoza City Council’s new digital platform aims to organise all the citizen solidarity actions in one place and connect people in need of help with those offering their help. Initiatives are focussed on how to help the most vulnerable citizens in their daily lives, such as going to the food store, calling elderly people living alone, offering help to take care of the children. Read more here