Salford City Council has won a top national award for its incredible response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pandemic Digital Innovation of the Year award was for the Spirit of Salford helpline, launched within 72 hours of lockdown beginning, which helped more than 40,000 residents affected by COVID-19. It was awarded by Digital Leaders 100, the most prestigious digital leadership awards in the UK.
City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “When Salford’s Gateway centres and Broughton Hub – which normally provide face to face customer services – had to close in March 2020 and thousands of people began shielding we knew there would be many residents who had no family or friends they could call on for help.
“We had the skills and technology to build what would turn out to be a lifeline for our most vulnerable residents.
“Within 72 hours, we had the Spirit of Salford helpline set up - a new call centre with an online referral system to partner organisations - to support customers with everything from food and medicine deliveries to weekly calls to check they were okay. We had to enable and equip council staff to work from home and operate a virtual call centre.
“As the pandemic continued, we launched Cloud Coffee and Chat sessions – video or phone call sessions to help residents with benefit and other queries to replace the BetterOff sessions we had been doing face to face.
“Many different council teams and partner organisations pulled together to make it happen, showing the strength and spirit of our city. It is fantastic to receive national recognition, particularly as part of this depended on the public vote. Thank you to everyone who not only supported the Spirit of Salford helpline but also to everyone who voted for us. After the public votes, the top three finalists were determined by two independent industry leading judges.
Mayor Dennett added: “This award win demonstrates our ambition to become a digital city as part of our vision for a fairer and more inclusive Salford to improve resident’s lives. Digital skills are now as essential as being able to read and write and we’re supporting thousands of residents to gain those key skills and be more confident online.
“Last month, we embraced Get Online Week, organising a range of events across the city to inspire people to do more online and help them learn how. We also have our Digital Everyone, Salford’s one stop website for courses, training, and support to do more online confidently and safely.”
The Spirit of Salford Helpline 0800 952 1000 which provides help and support is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm.
The Digital Leaders awards was the conclusion of a five-month process that saw 700 nominations, 20 judges, 23,000 votes and 100 finalists leading up to last night’s announcement of the top digital individuals and organisations from across the whole of the UK. Get more information about the digital leaders award wins.