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28 November 2023

It’s “only” a telecoms service until it’s much more than that. When it’s working for a food bank, it makes a difference

When we think of B2B communications services, we tend to think in terms of classical use cases – call handling for offices, retail outlets, bank branches, and so on. We may consider (at Gintel, we always do) mobility aspects and how users connect to the solution via the network – but we don’t often think of how such solutions can benefit non-commercial organisations.

We should, because they can. Particularly if they enable a new level of mobility which, in turn, helps such organisations deliver better services to those who depend on them. In this blog, we’ll highlight the wonderful way in which one of our customers – Jersey Telecom – has helped an island-based charity help more people with a vital food delivery service – making a crucial difference, year-round – but also gearing up for the busy Christmas period.

The real problem of hunger

With the global economy showing sluggish signs of growth for some time now, even developed countries have experienced an increasing reliance on food banks for people struggling with their finances.

In the UK, in the year ending 2022 2.1 million people lived in a household that had used a food bank in the previous twelve months according to statistics published by the government’s Department of Work and Pensions, and that number is growing[1]. Addressing this hunger problem, it’s charities that are mainly manning the front line.

In Jersey, one of these – the island’s St. Vincent de Paul Society – asked its local Communications Service Provider, Jersey Telecom, to help with its work via JT’s Community Scheme which supports local charitable activities via a combination of funding, technology, professional expertise, and volunteering.

As the statistics suggest, demand for the charity’s services – particularly its food bank – had been growing and to meet expanding demand, the Society wanted to set up a mobile food bank service to support Jersey’s rural communities.

In this case, by mobile, we mean one that could deliver to those in need. Doing this would require a phone system that would allow volunteers and charity workers to manage distribution and respond to client calls irrespective of location. In other words, they wanted to use their mobiles, but needed a solution that could better coordinate calls to and from volunteers while out in the field – managing the service efficiently.

Communications technology on the frontline

As reported, here, Jersey Telecoms stepped up big time, in the form of providing the charity with a free mobile broadband service along with access to the operator’s Cloud PBX phone system (from Gintel) that’s transformed the critical food bank service that the St. Vincent de Paul Society can deliver.

Perhaps to many of us in the communications industry – grizzled technology veterans all or tech-natives – being able to make, receive, answer, and forward critical work calls from our own personal devices is something we take for granted. But in the world of food banks, being able to leverage such technology is transformative.

Transformative because it makes a difference. The St. Vincent de Paul Society says that using the Cloud PBX means that almost no calls (from clients or donors) are not answered. The charity can now respond immediately, while its teams are in the field, delivering much-needed supplies and dealing with urgent cases.

The Cloud PBX system means that different volunteers can be reached via the same incoming call, with calls routed between team members, depending on availability, duty rosters and so on.

Moreover, when they call out to a client in need of help, the charity’s number is presented, so recipients recognise it – and answer the call, ensuring that much needed help is delivered. Volunteer’s personal numbers are not displayed, so they are protected – remaining private.

It’s those who find it difficult to travel to a food bank’s location who’ve reaped the rewards of Jersey Telecom’s contribution, without which the mobile food bank service couldn’t have been initiated because it would have been impossible to manage while out and about performing its fundamental role – getting food to people who need it. The Cloud PBX enables everything to be managed on the go, via the mobiles of each volunteer.

And, the charity points out, it’s been the operator’s contribution of technology and expertise, not just the fact of its donation, that’s the made the difference. Having run flat out through the summer and autumn months, as winter hits, the mobile food bank programme in Jersey is set to expand again.

Driven by Gintel’s Cloud PBX Solution

Behind Jersey Telecom’s contribution lies Gintel’s Cloud PBX. Already hosted in the Jersey Telecom network, Gintel’s solution allows both inbound and outbound calls to be handled via a variety of distribution options. This has made all the difference for the St Vincent de Paul Society and, indeed, for communities on the island. The platform is hosted virtually and has mobile functionality via direct connectivity to Jersey Telecom’s network. Calls are handled natively over the mobile network.

The point is this: The St Vincent de Paul charity can focus on delivering critical community services while doing so far more efficiently, using volunteer’s mobile phones, to ensure its community’s needs are met. And there’s no complex technology infrastructure or configuration required.

A world where food banks are necessary is, perhaps, one we’d all like to eliminate but in at least alleviating the problem of hunger, a combination of communications technology and charity appears to be where the rubber hits the road. And given that the need for the services provided by food banks is presently increasing around the globe, perhaps the Cloud PBX has a far more important role to play than it may at first seem.

So, a big hand to Jersey Telecom and its team for the generous donation – and a huge cheer to the St Vincent de Paul Society for the essential relief its and its volunteers delivers. Much needed, all year round – but especially appreciated as we approach the Christmas season.



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