Rise, where Cutover is located in London, recently hosted the second Hacker Games in support of Help for Heroes. Our Junior Developer Florian and CTO Kieran participated in the house team along with members of JudoPay.
Help for Heroes
Help for Heroes is founded on the belief that those who put their lives on the line for us deserve a second chance at life for them and their families. They provide recovery and support for the Armed Forces community whose lives are affected by their service, no matter when they served.
As of November 2017, MOD figures suggest there are 78,407 trained regular personnel and 22,423 trained reservists. Of those numbers, approximately 10% are currently unable to serve due to illness or injury. Furthermore, The MOD estimates that there were 2.56 million veterans in the UK in 2015. Unofficial figures raised by the charity Shelter suggest that 1 in 5 homeless people they support are ex-military and that 1 in 7 people in prison is also ex-military.
The brief for the hackathon was to look at how technology could benefit the lives of some people who have left the military and been affected by their service. With only two days to produce and present something, we decided to keep things simple. Our concept was to build an app that would make the relatively dry material available on the NHS website on improving mental wellbeing more interactive and accessible.
The NHS guidelines are fairly simple, suggesting activities to do in five key areas: Connect, Be Active, Learn, Give and Notice, but are not targeted towards a specific group of people. We decided to take a nudge approach to suggesting these activities to users and provide the ability to tailor the language that is used in the system. We were advised by one of the judges, Jay Allen, that the way a veteran from the airforce responds to certain types of language can be very different to the way someone from the Navy responds. We were also conscious of the fact that our target demographic are proud people who did not want to be talked down to from an ivory tower.
Rise Up to Recovery
For our app ‘Rise Up to Recovery’, our colleagues from JudoPay put together a back-end system that exposed a simple REST API, allowing us to create three ways to consume the suggested activities. We had a simple mobile application that allowed users to view their friends list and activities in each of the five areas.
We also provided an IVR voice app and SMS interactivity so that users had no need to register or sign up. Access was based on the user’s phone number so they could choose to interact with the system in the way that had the most impact for them, whether it was dialing in daily, receiving a daily text message or using the mobile application.
Unfortunately, there could only be one winner and the team from Moonpig made great use of VR to provide electronic eye movement therapy. The event itself raised £11,000 for Help for Heroes and we thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it.