Responding during the COVID-19 pandemic
InfoLink has been put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suffolk’s integrated and responsive directory has allowed the Council to be flexible in adapting to new challenges and communicating with residents on crucial issues.
The team could communicate with service providers across Suffolk, asking them to report adaptations to their services in real time, information which was fed into a coronavirus support page of the Council website. Users were signposted to vital services including food banks, community support groups and social activity providers. More than 400 services across Suffolk updated their details and InfoLink quickly became the only source of up to date, county-specific information for local services.
Faced with the pandemic, existing services also took on new importance, changing the way information was provided. The Community Information Team (CIT) at Suffolk worked with Idox to quickly deliver the necessary technical changes. Domestic cleaning, for example, suddenly became a key service that people were looking for, as restrictions impacted normal cleaning services. Another innovative feature rolled out was the ‘leave website’ button which quickly redirects to the BBC Weather website. Initially implemented to support those seeking information about domestic abuse support services, it has now been applied to all pages, allowing users to feel secure on any record.
The close collaboration between Suffolk FIS and the CIT on the InfoLink directory also supported Suffolk’s Track and Trace roll-out, the Suffolk Advice and Support Service and the Council’s ‘Home but not Alone’ campaign. All of which helped protect and support the vulnerable, while enabling key workers to find childcare. By working closely with childcare providers across the county, InfoLink quickly developed a list of more than 500 childcare providers who could support key workers and a brief was sent regularly to over 900 providers.
The communication process was two-way, with residents and providers able to pass vital information to the Council. Weekly data catch ups fed into directory updates, ensuring the system remained up to date and responsive.