Ami has been awarded £50,000 to help fund a pilot in Oxfordshire. It is one of only 9 successful organisations selected from 298 ventures that applied for the latest round of Social Tech seed funding from The Nominet Trust.
Ami is a new initiative which aims to help reduce loneliness and social isolation which are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, (Holt-Lunstad, 2010) and is worse for us than obesity and physical inactivity.
Project Manager Lois Muddiman said “Hidden behind closed doors in our communities are lonely, isolated people who need a little help and support to continue to live independently. There are also people out there with time to spare and the desire to help but they don’t know how to find each other. This is how Ami can help, you just have to enter your postcode to find out who needs help near you. You’ll find details of people who’d like some help. You can see what kind of help they need e.g. companionship, shopping or a lift to the doctors and what their interests are.
The Ami Pilot
140 new volunteers have registered with Ami since the pilot began in July. Sheila Furlong from The Archway Foundation said, “We’ve already attracted more than double the number of volunteers we usually have, using Ami.”
The other partner organisations taking part in the Ami pilot are Community First Oxon, Enrych, Wantage Advice Centre, Volunteer Link Up and Abingdon Good Neighbour Scheme. Good neighbour schemes in Didcot and East Oxford have recently joined and Bicester will be joining very soon.
Who is developing Ami?
Ami is being developed by Oxford Computer Consultants They aim to use technology to build stronger communities and reduce loneliness. The project is being funded using a combination of EU, Nominet Trust and internal funding. It is operating as a not-for-profit project and plans to become an independent social enterprise in 2017.
Managing Director, Dr John Boyle said “We’re currently piloting the site in Oxfordshire and we plan to be national soon. We’ll be adding lots more features to the site over the coming months. The Nominet Trust funding will help us to further test the potential of our idea”