Digital system for Scottish food banks

Scottish Tech Army initiative to help out with new system for volunteer management

Credit: PA

Food banks across Scotland are to move to a new digital system for volunteer management ahead of an expected rise in demand over winter.

The new technology will allow food bank managers to organise shift patterns, rotas and communications online.

The Scottish Tech Army (STA) is collaborating with the Trussell Trust to implement the roll-out of Assemble, a centralised database to accommodate volunteer sign-up and data collection.

The foundation of STA six months ago, to assist with coronavirus response, was supported by the Scottish Government, whose CivTech initiative runs the platform that connects tech experts with projects to which they can provide support.

Food banks in Edinburgh, Cupar, Aberdeenshire and Shetland will be the first to benefit from the new software, before it is rolled out nationally.

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Laura Ferguson, operations manager for Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “COVID-19 has led to a huge rise in the number of new people needing to use a food bank for the first time. This isn’t right.

“In the short term tools such as Assemble will help food banks in our network with administrative systems, allowing time to be freed up so teams can focus on helping people who need support the most.”

A report by the trust, which supports 137 food banks in Scotland, last month estimated there would be a 61 per cent increase in food parcels needed across the UK this winter.

The charity warned families with children would be hit hardest and many will have to make use of food banks for the first time, as poverty is predicted to increase due to rising unemployment.

STA founder Alistair Forbes said: “Food banks provide an essential service to thousands of families across Scotland and we are proud to be supporting the Trussell Trust in the roll-out of its software.

“We hope to create a long-term partnership that will see STA volunteers work closely with this vital charity, supporting communities across Scotland going forward.”

Sam Trendall

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