SOS Neighbor: With a new phone line, help to those who need it most is just a call away

SOS Neighbor: With a new phone line, help to those who need it most is just a call away

As the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic, the spirit of solidarity becomes stronger and stronger and civil society is making efforts to meet the needs of people belonging to the disease risk group. SOS Vizinho is one of the initiatives that wants to help those who need it most, bringing essential goods to those who cannot leave home through a national network of volunteers.

The initiative that started as a digital platform now also has a support phone line, operated by Altice Portugal. The toll-free 8002020 20 line is available every day, between 8 am and 8 pm. On the other side of the line is a group of 50 volunteers who take note of the needs of the caller, acting as intermediaries between the at-risk population, the teams that coordinate the SOS Vizinho and those who deliver the goods.

To SAPO TEK, Henrique Paranhos, one of the founders and responsible for the initiative, told that the idea of ​​creating the telephone line started to be discussed right from the conception of the project. It is true that digital platforms to support the population at risk already existed, however, Henrique indicated that there are still a number of people within this group who do not have Internet access at home or are not as agile when it comes to technologies.

From Altice we had an unbelievable receptivity from the moment zero. The official indicated that the company soon put a team at the disposal to respond to the needs of the initiative from a logistical and human resources point of view.

How to set up a line that links SOS Vizinho to those who need it most?

The establishment of a line between SOS Vizinho and a and Altice arose through the Ministry of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security, through Carla Ventura, Vice President of CASES. This is a public service project that has a solidarity aspect of the most relevant that can currently exist in the country, said Andr Figueiredo, director of Altice's institutional, corporate and communication coordination department, to SAPO TEK.

The director made it known that, as soon as Altice became aware of the initiative and the needs it had to make it a reality, the proposal was taken to CEO Alexandre Fonseca, who immediately gave the green light to proceed with the partnership.

To assemble the necessary structure behind the support line, the team led by Lus Alveirinho, CTO of Altice, had to act quickly. To SAPO TEK, the person in charge indicated that after establishing a phone number visible to all communications operators, all aspects of the call center in Picoas were organized, not forgetting the security measures of all employees. About 50 volunteers are expected to guarantee the functioning of the 10 available positions, explained Lus Alveirinho.

In collaboration with the team in front of SOS Vizinho, Altice also recorded a series of messages to inform the caller if the services are active and, if there is a large line affliction, if it is necessary to wait a little to be answered.

The project and this type of initiatives are fundamental, in particular, in smaller environments or away from large urban centers where the difficulty in having access to some minor information, said Lus Alveirinho, adding that in these areas of the country where there is a greater tendency to the population at risk does not have a family support network, for example.

From an idea to in 3 weeks

Necessity makes the device, the old saying went, and in the case of SOS Vizinho, it was the realization of a reality that seemed difficult that led to its emergence. Portugal's entry into a State of Emergency to contain the spread of COVID-19 left Henrique Paranhos thinking about who can not even leave home to buy food or medicine.