THE WORSHIPFUL COMPANY OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGISTS CHARITY
Two Charities Share the WCIT Charity IT Award 2018
Each to receive a grant of £300,000
Two charities, CALM (Campaign against Living Miserably) and Missing People, have jointly won the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists’ Charity IT Award 2018. Each will receive a grant of £300,000 as a result of their win. The WCIT award considered four finalists, drawn from 76 entries and, in the end, it was impossible to separate two of them. As a result, the judges led by Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord Lieutenant of Greater London and past Master (past Chairman) of the WCIT, recommended that £600,000 would be split between CALM and Missing People. The Charity trustees approved the recommendation.
Both winning charities face the problem of rising call and online chat volumes with insufficient human resources to service all the contacts they receive. They are therefore both seeking to make innovative use of chatbots supported by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to prioritise the calls and increase the number of enquiries successfully handled.
The awards will make a great difference to these two charities. Both winners welcomed the substantial grants from the WCIT Charity, noting that this will aid raising the balance from other funders. The awards will then have enabled not just one but two projects.
Furthermore, the winning projects have inspired the WCIT, the 100th Livery Company of the City of London, to create what has been provisionally called The Artificial Intelligence Learning Exchange, in order to build a leadership role in the use of Artificial Intelligence in the charity sector. Among the WCIT’s 800 members are leading practitioners in the AI and security sectors, and their skills will underpin this initiative. The WCIT Charity will invest in and provide support for this new initiative to ensure an approach that quickly promotes collaboration between the winners and rapidly acquires momentum in the charity sector.
As part of the Learning Exchange, the WCIT perceives a need for thought leadership around the ethics of using AI and chatbots in the charity sector. The WCIT has experience of taking such a leadership role: fifteen years ago, it started a similar initiative with IT4Arts, which now facilitates 150 leading arts organisations to collaborate and share their knowledge about the use of IT in the arts sector.
“Our creative approach has enabled us to make a life-changing difference to two charities rather than just one, and to build the opportunity to help many more in the future through enhanced collaboration,” says Sir Kenneth Olisa. “We are delighted in terms of what we have been able to deliver.”
The two other finalists, Beanstalk and The Brain Tumour Charity, were also congratulated on the quality of their applications.
“Our members are proud of our past funding achievements,” says Stefan Fafinski, Master of the WCIT. “This award can only add to our reputation and demonstrate the huge power of livery company philanthropy and pro bono volunteering as part of the City of London.”
Gary Moore, a trustee of the WCIT Charity, comments: “We are very enthusiastic about the possibilities to help these two charities achieve their ambitions and also to build expertise and experience to assist other charities in this critical technology area. We are at our best when we use not just our money but also our members’ expertise. So we believe that the outcome from this award could take us to some very exciting places.”
Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM comments: “We’re delighted to be working with the WCIT to develop RIO, a product with AI at its core that will radically improve helpline services in the UK and, without question, save many lives. The selection process was certainly gruelling and it’s a testament to the professionalism of the WCIT that we were made to hone every line of our plan to get through. We look forward to this rigour continuing as we embark on a partnership with the WCIT, throughout which we will be utilising the skills of the Company’s membership.”
CEO of Missing People, Jo Youle, adds: “The WCIT is the perfect partner for our One Safe Click project that aims to enable more vulnerable people to access the charity’s help in the way they want to reach us, and to begin organisational digital transformation. We see huge opportunity to share learning that will have significant benefit for the voluntary sector, especially Helpline providers.”