It's often easier to find a restaurant on Google Maps than to find local charities and community groups, but one organisation is working to change that.
We're proud to partner with aDoddle, a website that's helping to bring communities closer together. We spoke to CEO and founder Jaki King to find out how the website supports communities across England.
When and why was aDoddle setup?
I've seen first-hand the difficulty of finding the right support, and the impact this can have on people. Previously I worked as a trainer and coach for people who are unable to work due to long-term illness and disability. In 2010, a manager told me I could no longer support my clients as they were "no-hopers". I saw their challenges made worse by not being able to find the right support.
aDoddle was set up to create a cross-community, nationwide approach to ensure support, opportunities and resources are accessible in local communities. The site empowers people to access local charities or community groups.
We wanted to create an online service to pinpoint the support available from UK charities and community organisations, locally and nationally.
How does aDoddle support people?
We live in a digital world where we can find everything at a click of a button - or do we?
In the UK, there are over 150,000 charities, and thousands more community groups and projects, who provide a range of support and opportunities for people. But people sometimes struggle to find and access this support.
aDoddle is about 'joining the dots'. We aim to help people discover, connect with and shape their local community, bringing vital information together in one place. We work to make it 'aDoddle' to access support and resources available locally, regionally and nationally.
The community maps help:
Connect and signpost those who need support to those who provide it
Those experiencing isolation to find local groups and connections
Charities highlight their services and volunteering opportunities.
We aim to 'Connect Communities - One Click at a Time'
How does aDoddle support communities?
aDoddle's community maps showcase organisations that help to improve local communities, as well as supporting individuals. The community maps are all connected to each other, helping to join the dots between communities.
The maps help raise awareness of those being positive in their community, from organisations that clean-up local environments to groups that provide a greater sense of community. Finding ways to support the growth of resilient communities is essential, which is why we want to highlight those making communities thrive.
How has the pandemic affected aDoddle?
We haven’t lost sight of our goals throughout the pandemic. Before the first lockdown, we were in the process of launching our fourth community map, with students at Bournemouth University.
We originally aimed to introduce 12 new community maps with partner organisations by early 2020, with the aim of 30 community maps by 2022. But as a response to pandemic, over 4000 temporary organisations were set up in a number of weeks to support people.
This pushed us to work tirelessly to support local communities. Our website underwent major upgrades, and we introduced over 90 community maps. We're now working hard to develop partnerships with even more communities and businesses across the country.
Although aDoddle's community maps are a growing resource, some are still fairly 'empty'. We want to encourage more charities and organisations to create a free profile on our site. Every profile is vital in helping people find local support or opportunities.
The pandemic also allowed us to provide opportunities for young people in communities. We're very proud to have got people into work through the Kickstart Apprenticeship Scheme.
Community Mapping is not just for COVID-19, a storm, a flood, etc. It's for every day and every community.
What is the importance of area-based community maps?
There isn’t a 'one size fits all' solution for every individual or community. If faced by the same problem, some may benefit from seeing a doctor, others from joining a community group, or even getting back into work.
As community mapping grows, it'll help:
People feel empowered in choosing support
Family or friends find support for others
Communities be more connected
Encourage collaboration and the sharing or resources.
Following a local approach is vital; an organisation in London may not be relevant to someone in the south west, and vice-versa. Unfortunately, using other sites may make it difficult to find local, relevant support.
Community mapping allows people to be specific when trying to find support. On aDoddle, users can specify the type of support they need, set a location and desired search radius, meaning users can find support efficiently.
What does the future hold for aDoddle?
Our long-term goal is to be a central hub for local communities. We want aDoddle to be accessible in every medical practices, libraries, council offices, and supermarkets on screens. Then communities can easily access support, volunteering opportunities and have places to connect.
We know charities and community organisations are vital in supporting connected and resilient communities, so we’re striving for them to not be referred as 'third sector'.
We're also developing our business model by supporting businesses to fulfil their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Then we can reinvest surplus funds through existing community trusts and foundations.
Most of all, we hope that there is an end to people struggling to find help and connections when they need it.
We’re delighted to partner with aDoddle to sponsor their new Coventry Community Map.
Our legal expert Jade Elliot-Archer said:
"We work with many clients who've suffered severe and life-changing injuries, and it can be challenging for them to know who to turn to. Since the pandemic, this has become even more challenging as statutory services are often stretched.
"As well as providing legal support, we always look at the wider picture. We try to help our clients improve their quality of life, which may involve sign-posting to different organisations.
"We also work with various charities to provide volunteers, support and sponsorship, and we love that aDoddle are making it ‘a doddle’ to find and connect with charities. We know the platform will benefit individuals and charities across Coventry.
"Personally, I'm excited to launch this partnership in Coventry, as it's my home town. It's a city with a diverse population and a range of brilliant charitable organisations that we want to support."
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