Latvian hackathon devoted to COVID-19

By Inese Vaivare, Lapas LV

In March, we held a hackathon devoted to responding to the COVID-19 emergency, where professionals from different backgrounds gathered to generate ideas. The goal was to find a way to digitally connect high-risk people in need with volunteers who could help, people usually active on social media. The platform #stayhome was created: a call center operating 24/7 in Latvian, English and Russian, provided by a social enterprise employing people with disabilities, and mobile app that is available for volunteers and operates based on geographical location. A person in need just has to call, leave their phone number, location and need, and a volunteer  can pick up the task, call the person in need to confirm and just do it. This fast and easy solution has made it possible for anybody who wants to volunteer, however they want and whenever it is convenient and possible. No one is left behind!

Even though the application to become a volunteer is available only for authorized persons, in one month this movement has gathered more than 600 volunteers covering the whole country. We coordinate daily with social services, family doctors, hospitals. The movement is recognised by the government and supported by private sector companies. 

Reacting to the needs we saw most, we have already expanded to specific support for medical staff, linking doctors to different service providers and supporters such as car rentals, psychological support, and more. We also started to support local businesses run by people with high risk – for example, people can order daffodils grown by the elderly who cannot go to market to sell them now, and volunteers will deliver them.

We already see that this platform will also be crucial in the post-crisis period for socio-economic support in communities and neighbourhoods. 

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