As a result of the initial, unforeseen lockdowns of 2020, many local residents found themselves isolated and in need of assistance. The Knowle West Alliance responded by organising an impressive, people-powered support network, to meet the unexpected demand. This became increasingly difficult to manage as the number of people and requests grew. Through close collaboration with a technical team of volunteers, the KWA’s processes were turned into To/Fro, open-source, dynamic web application, allowing volunteers to more easily and directly respond to demand, whilst ensuring and retaining safeguards for them and anyone requesting help.

The OPCR network allowed for rapid development and iteration, with the project initially coming together over a weekend as part of the EU vs Virus hackathon. It has proved to be an invaluable resource, bringing together hundreds of people in the local area and has grown to include a long and unexpected list of actives:

  • Collecting Prescriptions
  • Food Shopping
  • Dog Walking
  • Gardening
  • Rubbish Clearance / Litter Picking
  • Adding Credit to Electricity Keys
  • Office Support
  • Surge Testing Site Volunteering
  • Well-Being Box Delivery and Support
  • Giving Lifts
  • Cleaning
  • Heavy Lifting/Moving
  • Meal Collection
  • Befriending Calls
  • D.I.Y.
  • Deliveries
  • Flyering

Many strong connections have been made through use of the site and many activities are now organised offline, peer-to-peer. Without the OPCR network, the ongoing development work and hosting wouldn’t have been possible.

We have been working closely with Bristol City Council and their wider volunteering provision, Can Do to improve our system and explore if and how it could be rolled out to the rest of the city, including the over 11,000 Can Do members.

Part of this work has included Penetration Testing, to ensure the security and integrity of the web application. The OPCR network is unique, being hosted and secured within Bristol as connections to the wider-web are opened only where needed and with strict security policies in place, to protect all sensitive and personal information.

The system has allowed for a development server to be used for testing updates as well as a PenTest server to allow for external testing.

The project is built openly and collaboratively on GitHub.