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Locally-Developed Volunteer Coordination Website Launched in Manitoba

HelpNextDoorMB.ca, a Government of Manitoba initiative powered by North Forge Technology Exchange, is a new province-wide online platform ready to empower local communities to come together and provide grassroots assistance during the COVID-19 crisis.

This new free app will allow Manitobans to ask for assistance when they need groceries, medication, emergency snow clearing and various other necessities. It is also a volunteer services portal, where anyone who is willing to pitch in can offer their services and time.

“This is how Manitobans pull together, put their heads together and bring ideas to life to assist each other when help is needed.  Manitoba has been the home of hope for over 150 years, and we will continue to be the home of hope for generations to come.  We will get through this pandemic together,” says Premier Brian Pallister.

North Forge, along with software development support from Winnipeg-based Permission Click and ID Fusion Software, collaborated over the past week to quickly and efficiently build this platform. While a project of this scope would normally take several months, this group managed to create a working app in five days that is already available for use. “When approached with the opportunity to help support all Manitobans during this difficult time, our team jumped at the opportunity,” says Christian Dandeneau, CEO of ID Fusion Software.

Security and safety are embedded into the app, with volunteers being required to provide proof of identification before accepting any requests for assistance. Requests for assistance are being filtered into specific categories, none of which require specialized training or break social distancing guidelines.

“Remember, this virus doesn’t discriminate, so we need to stand together and care for one another, helping others is a powerful way to reassert control in a moment where many of us feel helpless. If you are high-risk or end up needing to self-quarantine, know that your community is here to help you,” says Joelle Foster, Chief Executive Officer of North Forge.

As of April 2, the website had 5,669 user accounts and 51,856 hits, covering 161 communities throughout Manitoba. Requests have been predominately for delivery assistance and social connections.

Both volunteers and individuals are encouraged to sign up immediately at HelpNextDoorMB.ca, while any organization or group interested in pooling volunteer databases is encouraged to contact help@helpnextdoormb.ca.

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