When Covid-19 shut our doors on March 20th, one of our members asked if we knew anyone up north who could look in on their parents, who were vulnerable. Of course we had a wide network of customers, members and followers, so we knew that if we asked on our social media, someone would crop up.
One of the things we love about the biking community is how they always step-up in a crisis. Independently-minded, adventurous and generally up for doing things above-and-beyond, it occurred to us that ALL of our community might be interested in helping check-up on the vulnerable, or delivering food & medicine, so we started a Facebook group page, the Bike Shed Community Response - to see who was interested in helping out.
Within four days we had over 800 people join the group and volunteer to help, with food, medicine, wellbeing checks, etc, and then came requests to help deliver PPE to small surgeries, care-homes and pharmacies, made by more volunteers. We had to set up a whole new website to share info, recruit riders and find those in need of help.
It was clear we couldn't do all this via Facebook or WhatsApp so we asked the community for help, and one of our members, Mike Butler, put is in touch with a company called Wavestone, a digital consultancy firm who were looking for ways to help during Covid 19. After several calls, they connected us with Gophr, a Courier app created for independent courier on bicycles, which evolved to working with motorcycles and vans.
After just three weeks of customising and testing we had an app and a management system, so we went about recruiting our Facebook members to the App, with support from Team Rubicon UK, the ex-military disaster and emergency response organisation, who work with the government and NHS after major disasters, like earthquakes and famine.
It was complex to join the re-purposed app, with DBS checks and loads of workarounds on what had been created as a commercial app, but within a couple of weeks we had 1,400 riders signed-up and active on the Gophr App, and by then we were doing about 200 pickup and deliveries a day, mostly PPE.
We then got in touch with Covid Crisis Rescue who had a new project created by NHS Doctors trying to circumvent NGHS red-tape to deliver Pulse Oximeters (oxygen readers) to vulnerable patients at home, to ensure they did not die of silent hypoxia, when they should have been in hospital. This became a separate project in itself, the Urgent Oximeter Response, which is still delivering Oximeter probes as of today, and is about to expand further, joining up with Charing Cross hospital supported by QPR football club.
Over the last 8 months the BSCR has made over 6,000 deliveries of food, PPE, C-19 test kits to NHS workers at home, and 600 oximeter pulse readers to patents, helping save lives. Our volunteers are an amazing cross section of the biking community and are testament to the power of people and the good character of people who ride motorcycles. Sadly our work continues as the C-19 crisis is not over, and the vulnerable in particular need our help as much as ever.
To find out more check the BSCR website.