Case Studies

Read about how Tribe is helping councils and communities mobilise support to help the most vulnerable.

North Yorkshire County Council

When North Yorkshire County Council mobilised to help support the community during the initial Covid-19 lockdown, Tribe allowed it to coordinate a large and successful volunteer effort that would ensure the wellbeing of its most vulnerable residents across the county.

As England’s largest county by area, the council has the added challenge of some of its most vulnerable people living in sparsely populated rural areas.

Little or no access to transport, coupled with social isolation, can lead to these individuals struggling to access the support they need and requiring the services of an already stretched care system, often to perform jobs that could be fulfilled by volunteers.

What challenges did they face?

In March 2020, when the nationwide lockdown began, North Yorkshire County Council needed a way to manage, coordinate and communicate with a large number of volunteers over the lockdown period.

Council employees who were unable to do their usual jobs due to lockdown became volunteers, with 279 council staff members responding to the ‘call to arms’ put out through the council’s intranet, and they joined several volunteers already working for community support groups around the county.

With an army of willing volunteers and several hundred residents identified as vulnerable, the job of managing and coordinating the volunteer effort was central to the running of the council’s Covid-19 response.

How did Tribe help?

By using Tribe to coordinate its volunteer effort, the council was able to monitor the wellbeing of its population through proactive measures, such as conducting welfare checks across the county at the start of lockdown. In these visits, the volunteers would check the wellbeing of the resident and ensure they had access to everything they needed, such as food and medicine.

Volunteers would log any jobs identified by these welfare visits on the app, where they appeared alongside volunteer jobs identified by the council’s call centres and by community support groups.

Tribe proved such a success for NYCC’s volunteer effort that it is now embedded inits business plans for continuing support across the community.

Tribe helped us with the fulfillment of multiple activities and managing our volunteer base. The Tribe portal and app has been extremely flexible and coped with large-scale demand with relative ease.
- Ben Kilsby, Project Lead, Technology and Change, NYCC

Jobs completed by volunteers through the Tribe app include food collection and deliveries, medicine deliveries, and transport to health appointments. Volunteers are also helping with small but no less helpful tasks such as walking dogs or simply providing company for those who are socially isolated.

Thanks to the Tribe app’s intuitive user interface and easy-to-access request process, the volunteers are able to easily see all available jobs within a certain radius of their location, and the council can group similar tasks within specific areas for ease of use. The app’s messaging function allows volunteers to clarify details of the needs of the user as required.

Logged jobs are also added with a time frame, either by posting a job with a scheduled time for completion or as ‘asap’ for more urgent needs. This function also helps the council to triage incoming requests to ensure more urgent jobs take priority, and that volunteers can respond accordingly.

So far, Tribe has helped NYCC to support over 1000 vulnerable individuals across North Yorkshire.

With a difficult winter ahead as the pressures of a pandemic combine with other seasonal challenges such as adverse weather, loneliness and isolation, the council has developed a strategy to increase coverage and is recruiting further volunteers to the app to meet the predicted demand in coming months.

How will they develop their use of Tribe into the future?

NYCC is looking forward to exploring Tribe’s micro-provider care functionality to help address the challenges around commissioning care into deep rural areas. They plan to work closely with health and adult services to provide more non-regulatory care to individuals through Tribe, thus taking the pressure off these public services and ensuring all members of their community get the support that they need.

Essex County Council

What challenges did they face?

Like local authorities across the country, Essex County Council (ECC) faces increasing demand for care services at a time of acute financial pressure.

ECC is pushing a digital-first approach to critical public health and wellness issues to make communities more resilient, empowering individuals to make choices about their care while reducing strain on council services.

The Essex Wellbeing Service (EWS) was formed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to support vulnerable residents' health, well-being, and care needs. Many existing partner services pivoted towards coronavirus action, supporting public health to distribute messages across the whole community, give support where needed, and recruit and mobilise volunteers.

Essex County Council needed a model that would ensure care needs are identified across the county, including in isolated rural areas, to highlight care blackspots and direct support appropriately.

How did Tribe help?

The Tribe platform aligns with ECC’s aims to develop the use of assistive technology to support its most vulnerable residents. Thanks to the information captured through Tribe, the local authority has been able to identify areas of need across the county and direct available resources accurately and efficiently.

The beginning of the rollout of Tribe in Essex has seen the technology provide individuals with choice and control over the care they receive, either through volunteers or community micro-enterprises. Tribe gives them power over the decisions that affect their lives whilst taking pressure off council services.


The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for communities to engage more than ever. The council used Tribe to increase the social impact of the public’s efforts, supporting volunteers to mobilise effectively to support the most vulnerable.

The council’s appeal for volunteers at the start of the first lockdown saw 4000 members of the public recruited, followed by a further 2500 volunteers later recruited to support the vaccination programme.

The Essex Wellbeing Service now has a sizeable pool of volunteers using the Tribe app, with thousands of vulnerable residents across Essex supported in numerous ways.

A number of voluntary sector organisations, whose work is crucial to the local communities they serve, have begun to trial the Tribe platform for their users. Groups like Rainbow Services in Harlow, which works to alleviate the effects of disadvantage and social exclusion, are beginning to rollout the app to their users, with many other groups enthusiastic to follow once the immediate demands of the pandemic are reduced.

Covid-19 has seen citizens more immersed in their communities than ever before, and therefore more inclined to get involved on a community level. As a result, many mutual aid groups sprung up in communities across the county in response to the first lockdown, and Tribe has allowed these groups to self-organise and flourish. Users could immediately see how the app’s functionality provided the potential for building and strengthening their communities due to its intuitive and responsive nature.

Youth opportunities are particularly exciting for ECC, as Tribe can provide these previously scarce opportunities in a digital format that is second nature to young people.

Post-Covid, one-off events and opportunities, such as localised litter picks or a beach clean, can become family-friendly events for the whole community, with volunteers recruited through the app.

We see Tribe as central to the future of volunteering for EWS, post-Covid.
- Nadine Allwood, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Essex Wellbeing Service

As the rollout continues, all admins of place-based community groups on Facebook will have access to it to coordinate their community efforts more organically.

Crucially, through Tribe, Essex County Council has been able to connect with groups - not through organisations, but directly, allowing the council to track blackspots and engagement in real-time like never before.

The sky's the limit for me. It will help me as a commissioner to be able to understand what I have and what I don't have, and it will be a barometer of how activated my communities are.
- Kirsty O’Callaghan, Head of Strengthening Communities, ECC

Community Micro-Enterprises

Adult social care teams in Essex County Council are also trialling Tribe in their work with community micro-enterprises.

A project within the 'Choice and Control' programme is focused on the Basildon district. It aims to provide individual choice and empowerment. For those residents allocated a personal budget in the form of a Direct Payment for meeting their care and support needs, Tribe allows them to make choices for themselves about the type of care they want to access, and the control over when and how they receive that support.

The council have worked with a mixture of community micro-enterprises, including groups and sole traders, to onboard them and set them up with the app, supporting them in ensuring the correct CQC registration and safeguarding measures are in place.

How will they develop their use of Tribe into the future?

Tribe is already showing the benefits that can be gained by putting people in control of accessing care from their local community, something that is not achievable through local authorities commissioning care at a large scale. The platform is particularly valuable for those who want access to personalised, local and flexible support. We are excited to see what the future holds as we broaden this approach to other areas of Essex and continue to connect individuals with community micro-enterprises.
- Lisa Wilson, Head of Strategic Commissioning and Policy, ECC

ECC can see great potential in the hyper-local care environment post-Covid, particularly as the economic challenges are already evident, with people transitioning into new roles and new models of working.

Once councils can move out of the pandemic emergency mode, there are plans for volunteering and adult social care teams to work together to encourage volunteering as a path to paid work. The intention is to train those volunteers who express an interest in working in care, supporting them through qualifications and onboarding them as a community micro-enterprise. This in turn will help to address the existing gaps in the wider care workforce that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

Additionally, as local authorities manage the recovery of services after the pandemic's peak, Essex County Council sees Tribe as an opportunity to strengthen and increase the sustainability of public mobilisation so that it can be maintained into the likely long tail of Covid-19.

I absolutely believe in Tribe as a product. It is what I can imagine citizens themselves using to come together and self-organise.
- Kirsty O’Callaghan, Head of Strengthening Communities, ECC