A DIGITAL tool used to help thousands of vulnerable Bury people during the coronavirus pandemic has won a national award.

The Community Hubs App, developed by Bury Council with Microsoft and Manchester-based ICT company ANS, has won the Partner Recognition Award from the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation (SOCITM).

Nicky Parker, who has been managing the community hubs, said: “The App was designed in the first month of the Covid outbreak and deployed really quickly to track all the tasks created when Bury residents rang the Covid helpline and asked for support.

“It creates tasks in the Contact Centre, passes them automatically to one of Bury’s five Community Hubs where the task is picked up by the hub staff. They contact the resident to understand the nature of support required and then the task if still needed it is passed to one of the 800 residents who volunteered to support the hubs.

“This is often a request to go shopping for someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, shielding or self-isolating. Other support includes collecting medication from local pharmacies and referring people to wider support to partners such as Age UK for befriending calls, mental health organisations, CAB for help with debt and other advice and referrals to one of Bury’s foodbanks.

“There is also support from the council’s revenue and benefits team for benefits queries and self-isolation grants and referrals to Integrated Neighbourhood Teams where a health or social care need is required.

“The Hubs act as the single place in neighbourhoods to co-ordinate support for residents and the App has been at the heart of that to ensure all tasks are recorded, tracked and completed. It’s a mobile app so available to everyone in the Hub system on a mobile phone which makes it accessible, easy to use and instant.”

Cllr Richard Gold, cabinet member for communities, said: “We owe a huge debt to the hundreds of Bury people in our Community Hubs who have helped the most vulnerable in our society get through the worst of the pandemic.

“This App has made their task much easier, and we are delighted to have been recognised by SOCITM and thank Microsoft and ANS for their development support.”