Finalist category: Community Impact
Community Impact Award, Finalist, 2021
vHelp was created as a result of the immense response from volunteers during the first lockdown.
The team from VeeLoop Ltd (originally a safe online payment for young people) started shopping for neighbours as lockdown started and always had issues with payments (change, fear of contamination, sharing payments details). So, Randa and Patricia decided to use their contacts and experience in digital payments to create a solution for the thousands of volunteers and vulnerable people who were shielding and needed help with shopping and other essential purchases.
The team got a small pilot up and running in just 4 weeks. They then received funding from Innovate UK to develop it into a full service with a mobile app. vHelp Shopping was born to enable secure card payments from vulnerable people to volunteers whilst protecting the vulnerable person’s data, reimbursing volunteers quickly and provide an audit trail for voluntary organisations.
Ilkley and District Good Neighbours said that vHelp reduces the administration and cost associated with their shopping service payments by 75%, whilst protecting their service users and paying volunteers quickly.
As the team started to work closely with charities, they uncovered another problem, volunteers’ expenses processing and payment was a heavily manual process. So, they built vHelp Expenses – a volunteer expense management and payments system. Expenses are submitted via the vHelp app, payments processed swiftly and records available on the managers’ dashboard.
vHelp Expenses has been used by many charities supporting the NHS in the vaccination program, ensuring the army of volunteers at vaccination centers have their expenses reimbursed quickly.
Claire Redford-Kerr from Halton and St Helens VCA said: “Using vHelp Expenses has really helped the volunteering team to speed up payments. It has cut out lots of work for our finance team, who were previously getting inundated with spreadsheets of volunteer expenses. It also means volunteers get paid quickly.”
vHelp Expenses allows volunteers to donate their expenses back to charities and claim Gift Aid on the donation, helping charities raise extra funds at a much-needed time. One sector CEO added: ‘This simple act removes stigma from volunteers who have to claim to be able to afford to volunteer.’