On 26 June Russian President Vladimir Putin held a video conference with members of the “In this together” national initiative. Organizations which have supported the project include DOBRO.RU, the All-Russia People’s Front, the Roscongress Foundation, the Association of Volunteer Centres, the nationwide Medical Volunteers movement, Volunteers for the Constitution, and Rostelecom.
18 June marked three months since the Roscongress Foundation launched the #InThisTogether helpline, which provides support and coordinates assistance for over‑60s and people with limited mobility who are at increased risk from COVID-19 and who are self-isolating during the pandemic.
The helpline was set up in just two days. This involved putting the technical infrastructure in place, creating an interactive voice response menu, organizing call handling capacity, routing calls to operators 24 hours a day, and a number of other aspects required for the multi-line call centre to operate smoothly.
More than 3 million calls have been answered over the three months, with more than 1,5 million requests registered. Eleven per cent of calls involved people asking questions regarding assistance with purchasing and delivering food and medication. Twenty-nine per cent of calls involved answering people’s questions about the coronavirus and providing them with psychological and legal support. Seventeen percent involved transferring callers to specialized helplines, and ten per cent of calls involved people giving feedback and thanking the operators following the fulfilment of a request. Most calls were made from Russia’s most densely populated regions, including Moscow, Moscow Region, Krasnodar Territory, St. Petersburg, Sverdlovsk Region, and Rostov Region.
“Setting up and running a project of this size has been a new challenge for the Roscongress Foundation. Within a very short timeframe, we became able to take calls 24 hours a day, and provide quick assistance to everyone contacting us via a single number. This was just as all regions in Russia were gradually imposing lockdown measures. We benefit from having operators based right across the country. It’s worth highlighting the social good that this project is doing. With the #InThisTogether helpline, we are able to work together with our partners to leverage the experience we have amassed in collaborating with the private sector, government bodies, and civil society to address the most important challenges facing our country. I have no doubt that what we have achieved will not only be remembered, but also help further encourage millions of people in Russia. We’d like to thank all our partners who have taken part for their assistance in helping to organize and bring to life this vital project,” said Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Roscongress Foundation Alexander Stuglev.
The helpline began by helping with deliveries of food and medication for over‑60s and people with limited mobility who are at increased risk. Over time, the helpline transformed into a fully-fledged information headquarters, with support being provided across more than 10 areas. These included assistance from healthcare workers with free food, deliveries of food and medication, transport to places of work, and places to stay temporarily while working; receiving requests concerning loan repayment holidays; family support payments; legal support for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic; and psychological help.
In the run-up to a number of religious festivals in April, the Innosocium Foundation – the Roscongress Foundation’s social platform – organized a helpline staffed by representatives of Russia’s main faiths. These people provided 24-hour support to people in Russia looking to have their questions answered, or just looking for support. Since the initiative launched, more than 3,000 calls were made by people seeking spiritual assistance.
The #InThisTogether helpline has essentially become a one-stop shop during the pandemic. It serves as a platform for people to make a specific request and receive direct assistance, and also an information centre which has consolidated helplines across the country.
The helpline was a pilot initiative by the Roscongress Foundation. The organization’s immediate plans now include providing assistance to companies across various industries looking to set up modern, newly equipped call centres. These are companies which stand to benefit greatly from having an integrated information centre which can operate according to a specially adapted scenario in accordance with their line of business. The helpline service package will also include staff training to help them meet the standards set so successfully during the #InThisTogether initiative.
The Roscongress Foundation continues to grow as a socially oriented non‑financial development institution. Indeed, the results delivered by the #InThisTogether helpline speak volumes about the sustainability and professionalism of a company which has primarily focused on organizing and running international conventions; exhibitions; and sporting, public, and cultural events – events which for obvious reasons have recently had to be cancelled or postponed.