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Designed to let people find their local food bank, and for those food banks to tell the local community directly what they need, use of the app isn’t free and each food bank that uses it is charged £180 to register.
the cognitive dissonance between tories bragging about donating to their local food bank while voting for government policies that lead to people not being able to afford food is just incredible— kb (@uncooljerk) December 16, 2019
Appalled that someone would profit from the food poverty crisis, one that’s being caused by the austerity policies of Cates own party, tech-savvy and social justice-minded Twitter users have come together to start building a replacement service—one which will be free to use for both food banks and their users.
Legit, does anyone want to partner up with me to build basically the same thing but without the (frankly ludicrous) fees?— dave, builder of ridiculous things 🛠 (@syn) December 14, 2019
I can write a backend and run the infra in my sleep, can probably just about do Web frontend, but native mobile app development is outside my skillset. https://t.co/ouseUXRsoo
InfoSec guy here. If I can’t sort you out a gratis risk asssesment, pentest and remediation advice, I’m not half the person I think I am.— Glenn Pegden (@GlennPegden) December 15, 2019
DMs open. Creds can be validated on LinkedIn etc.
I’m not sure I can contribute skills/time, but I would be willing to contribute (modest amounts of) cash towards hosting costs, etc.— Moof (@Moof) December 14, 2019
Also, consider looking at @odoo CE as a base for functionality... it has FLOSS inventory, purchase and manufacture orders that could be adapted
My skills are completely useless to this but I can help with video to promote the app to councils afterward if so needed? Any photography / video that can give it a push to groups who might need a service like this is yours so the app that shall not be named is easily replaced 🙌🏽— 🌈Michelle Tofi (@vermatofi) December 15, 2019
Hello, just signed up, I'm not in tech but I work with homeless people and refugees and know legal things and services. An app would be really helpful for all that. There's currently the streetlink app but it's a bit clunky.— Lily🌹 (@lilyhuggins) December 15, 2019
The project was kicked off by Dave Williams, a DevOps engineer who made headlines once before for their part in organizing an anti-homophobia kiss in. The app is still in the early organizational stages.
Speaking to the Daily Dot, Williams said that credit for the idea itself actually belongs to their friend, Twitter user @lexxiakalexxi, who responded to their initial despair-filled tweet about Cates’ app with a call for someone to make a free version.
Surely this is just an opportunity for someone to create a better app that is supplied for free with maybe some minimal ad revenue to cover costs (including development) with any excess donated to a relevant charity?— Mx Lexxi McKaye ☿️ 🏳️🌈 ⚢ 🎶 ☥ ∞ (@lexxiakalexxi) December 14, 2019
“It was like a light switching on,” they said. “I’d been so busy feeling hopeless that I hadn’t spotted an opportunity for some hope going HELLO YES I AM HERE LET US PARTY.”
Williams tweeted out a request for volunteers to help build their new app before logging off for the night. Williams was only expecting to get around “four responses if I was lucky,” so they were astonished then when they woke up the next day to discover eighty people had already signed up, and that the numbers continued to climb as the day went on.
On a personal note, I'm overwhelmed with the response to this. I expected one or two people to be interested. The total responses as it stands right now? 109. This is amazing. Please bear with me while I get the necessary administrative framework rigged to move forward.— dave, builder of ridiculous things 🛠 (@syn) December 15, 2019
Along with individual volunteers ranging from farmworkers to physicists, Oldham Food Bank got in touch and offered to act as a pilot subject for them.
Any new initiatives that boost donations we would happy to be a pilot for it . We hope for day that Foodbanks are no longer needed but are acutely aware that we won't be going anywhere soon due to the recent election results.— Oldham Foodbank 🦉 (@OldhamFoodbank) December 15, 2019
Realizing that the potential scope of this project went beyond the replacement food bank app, Williams began creating a structure to enable all the volunteers to link up and work together, starting with features for food banks and their users but with plans to expand beyond that to tackle other Tory policies.
A Tory MP runs an app charging food banks £180 for the privilege of being listed. Let's do better.— Tory Survival Toolkit (@ToryToolkit) December 16, 2019
If you'd like to help build a replacement (and eventually a whole set of tools for coping with Tory austerity), read more and let us know your skills! https://t.co/XNaCQxco16
Calling it the Tory Survival Toolkit, Williams explained that “I decided to call the project a ‘toolkit’ because my agenda continues afterward. There are some things that are simple to implement, easy wins—like offline documentation and guidance, and lists of bodies that people can contact to help with certain situations.”
Intending it to function as a co-operative organization rather than a hierarchical one, the toolkit is designed to be largely self-managing, allowing people to seek out mutual aid and put in what they can when they can. The large pool of volunteers and their ability to put out requests and respond in real-time should enable quick, reactive, and effective responses while retaining flexibility.
Williams was also quick to point out that food banks need money and labor more than anything else, and that those who can do that should put their energies there first. For many of those who are disabled, time-poor or otherwise unable to do more physical volunteer work, however, a position Williams finds themselves in, the Tory Survival Toolkit seems like an exciting chance to make a difference.
Look. If you can help the foodbanks directly, you'll do far more good spending your time with them than you will working on this project. If you've got money to donate, donate it to the Trussell Trust. If, like me, this is the best you can do, then let's do this thing together.— dave, builder of ridiculous things 🛠 (@syn) December 15, 2019
While Williams’ project seems to be the most prominent of the responses to the revelations about Cates’ app, several other developers are also working on similar projects in both the U.K. and Ireland. Rather than working at cross purposes, many have already started reaching out to each other, Williams included, discussing how best to share research and data and otherwise work together to provide the optimal outcome for those they’re aiming to serve.
hey! a bunch of people have pointed me at your project, was just wondering if you'd like to have a chat about where you are and whether we have the same goals.— dave, builder of ridiculous things 🛠 (@syn) December 16, 2019
Follow 🙂— Dominic Lipscombe (@DomLip94) December 16, 2019
Oh well I already have samples and everything done. You by all means, do what you’re doing! Mine will be taking care of Ireland too. 🙂— Spec (@ThisIsSpecious) December 14, 2019
I’d be more than happy to help share any publically accessible information with you all.
And you friend. If you need anything let’s be a resource for each other ok? I don’t intend to leave any part of the UK out to dry on this stuff. So try not to worry. I’m not from the UK but I see and want to help. I’d be happy to RT your stuff etc etc.— Spec (@ThisIsSpecious) December 14, 2019
This. @ThisIsSpecious is working on another one too. I welcome multiple efforts to be honest; the end result is likely to be that each fills a gap left by the others.— dave, builder of ridiculous things 🛠 (@syn) December 16, 2019
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org