Q. How does Help Close By help people?

 A. Help Close By provide free software that connects people in need with local charities and Not-for-Profit agencies that can help.


Q. What sort of help is available, through the Help Close By app?

 A. Help Close By are starting with food banks, hot meals, baby supplies, shopping collection and delivery of prescriptions. The help that is available in each area is subject to the number and type of organisations that have signed up in each area.

 Q. Does Help Close By provide food or other assistance?

 A. Help Close By is an integrator, connecting people in need with local support organisations, resupply groups and their volunteers.


Q. Does Help Close By provide volunteers?

 A. No. Volunteers are recruited by and vouched for by the support organisations themselves.


Q. How does help Close By help organisations?

 A. The Help Close By app will allow people in need to easily connect with support organisations. It can increase a support organisation’s reach within a defined geographic area identifying previously unmet needs.  The app forwards requests for food, baby supplies etc. to the organisation close to the customer’s address. It allows the organisation to prioritise requests from those in most need or to not accept the request if stocks are low or specifically requested supplies (e.g. vegetarian, halal etc.) unavailable.  It will provide the information an organisation needs without the need to make lists of unrelated individuals and the potential data breach this may cause. The app has functions that safeguard both volunteers and customers whilst allowing volunteers to indicate their availability simply and clearly. There is additionally a resupply function that allows surplus distributors to connect with food banks etc. when they need to restock.


Q. How does Help Close By support volunteers?

 A. The Help Close By app will alert volunteers when food parcels etc are ready for delivery in their area. The Help Close By app will provide the volunteers with a challenge code that enables them to confirm the identity of the customer. The app also allows the volunteer to provide feedback to their organisation if there were any issues with the delivery. Volunteers can simply turn on alerts when they available or off, when they are resting. The built-in map function allows volunteers to conveniently locate the customer’s address.


 Q. What does Help Close By do to protect my personal information?

 A. Help Close by will delete your information from the volunteer’s phone shortly after the delivery has taken place. It will also delete the information if the delivery is not competed within a set timeframe. The app prevents the need for organisations to keep multiple lists of many user’s personal details ensuring such information is only available only to those who need to know it.


Q. How does Help Close By Safeguard its customers?

 A. Help Close By will only allow its app to be used by organisations that confirm they are a registered charity or not for profit organisation that has the right level of safeguarding in place. This includes the risks relating to the Covid19 pandemic, that it has checked the identity of its volunteers and can vouch for them.


Q. What help is available through Help Close By?

 A. Food banks, Baby Clothing and Hot Meal delivery are services that are currently available in our launch area. The services that are available in an area is dependent on the number and type of organisations that have completed our onboarding process which ensures the safety of their volunteers and customers.


Q. Where do I find out more about Help Close By?

 A. Our website www.helpcloseby.org  will provide more information about our organisation.


Q. Is there a list of charities that use the Help Close By app?

 A. People in need of help can find out whether there are organisations available in their area through our app by downloading it. The app allows a search before asking people to register and provide any personal information.


Q. How do I get the Help Close By app?

 A. The Help Close By software and app is available for PC, Android and iPhone devices. It can be downloaded from the Apple App store and Google Play. Geographic limits exist for real world use based on organisation take-up of the app.


Q. How much does the Help Close By app cost?

 A. The Help Close By app is completely free of charge for people in need of help, support organisations and their volunteers.


Q. Does the Help Close By app use advertising or sell individuals’ personal information to make money?

 A. Help Close By is funded through public donation and grant funding. Help Close By is a registered charity whose aim is to support individuals in crisis through the use of free technology. There will be no advertising on the app and the information provided will be used solely for the purpose of providing the help requested. Anonymised statistical data will be recorded to demonstrate how many people our partner organisations have helped, and they will be allowed access to these numbers.


Q. How can I access support via Help Close By app if I do not have a smart phone?

 A. Our app has a referral feature which enables organisations with your permission to make a request on your behalf.


Q. How long does the referral or supply organisation’s task list remain available to them?

 A. Referrals stay within an organisation’s feed on the app until completed. The related information will persist for a few days following completion to allow time for feedback to be left, However, regardless of feedback this will then disappear from the app. This is also the case for direct user requests. Supply organisations will no longer see requests once they have been delivered.


Q. Will volunteers vouched for by one organisation receive requests referred to or supplied by another?

 A. Yes. All volunteers in an area will be able to see requests near to them, based on their “Help Zone”, which is a set of postcodes they are happy to deliver within. They can change their Help Zone whenever necessary. The Help Zone is designed to allow requests to be organised into delivery areas or routes.  Volunteers may be guided to the areas they should cover by their organisation. Volunteers will be able to see requests from other organisations in their area in order to encourage cooperation. However, it is down to them if they want to deliver a request originating from another organisation. They’ll be able to view the originating organisation in the request details.


Q. How do the volunteer’s locations mesh with the location of the supply and referral organisations?

 A. Volunteers are vouched for by an organisation, so can be expected to be located near enough to that organisation. An organisation’s catchment is limited by their location (geo fenced by council ward boundaries). The app initially defaults to an area around the volunteer’s address.  Some volunteers may live outside of these boundaries and therefore may want to set up their own “help zone” within the areas their organisation is operating. All requests coming in ultimately will be from areas where there are enough organisations signed up to use the app, in order to give support, Help Close By won’t make the app available for requests in areas without sufficient provision.


 Q. Can the list of referrals by each organisation be exported e.g. to label printers or for statistical purposes?

A. Help Close By are extremely careful where data is used and can be seen. Access to data at the moment is temporary and is based on the visibility being relevant and justified for an organisation or volunteer to access. Help Close By are however, very aware that supplies being sent out in huge volumes will need to have labels. Help Close By therefore are actively developing this function but would like to consult more on printing options with the supply organisations. Help Close By will require organisations to tightly control who has access to this function, limiting it to the relevant and minimum number of their team.


Q. Can I use the app if English is not my first language?

 A. The main features of the app are accessible using several languages including Polish, Romanian and Modern standard Arabic. It is our intention that more languages will be added.


Q. Will other services be available through Help Close By in future?

 A. Our aim is to bring in new services and expand to other areas based on need as development time allows. Mental health support and access to housing advice are under consideration for the future. All suggested new features must be viable at scale, must be related to the fight against poverty and serve a public benefit in accordance with our charitable objects.


Q. How does the Help Close By app work?

 A. The Help Close By app uses geolocation software to send requests for help to organisations close to a person’s address. If this organisation cannot meet the person’s needs, the app will forward the request to the next nearest appropriate organisation. The app will also use geo-fencing technology to confirm requested services are available.


Q. How do I know I can trust Help Close By with my personal information?

 A. Help Close By is a registered charity (Charity no. 1196402) and has to obey the law in protecting individual’s personal information. Our Privacy statement can be accessed here: https://www.helpcloseby.org/privacy-policy/


Q. How does Help Close By verify and approve the organisations it works with?

 A. Our onboarding process requires organisations to confirm they are Charities or Not for Profit, have a recently reviewed safeguarding policy which includes the Covid 19 risks, identify checks for volunteers and a data policy.


Q. How does Help Close By check the identity of volunteers?

 A. Help Close By does not engage volunteers directly. Organisations that use the Help Close By app are required to confirm they have checked the identity and can vouch for their volunteers.


Q. How do I find out the areas in which support organisations are using the Help Close By app?

 A. Once the app is downloaded it is possible to enter your postcode and find out if the app is covered by organisations in your area. If it is, you can use your postcode entry to complete registration. Should you enter your postcode and there are no partners in your area, your postcode will not be recorded. A version due for future release will direct people not presently covered to our website so they can sign up to hear when we launch in their area as well as links to other avenues for help.


Q. Will Help Close By carry on working after the COVID-19 crisis is over?

 A. Whilst the motivation for the app was the rapid growth in mutual aid and other support groups during the early part of the Covid 19 crisis, it is anticipated that there will continue to be a need for the app long after the pandemic has peaked. Help Close By will continue to support chartable and Not for Profit groups with technological solutions in future.