A couple of weeks ago, RingCentral teamed up with UC Today to run CC Expo: Virtually Together. This virtual expo focussed on the practical applications of cloud communications and contact centre and the tangible benefits they can bring to businesses.
Among the sessions available was an interview with Avril Chester, founder and CEO of Cancer Central. Avril is an expert in technology and strategy, and won Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2019 Women in IT Awards.
Following her own encounter with cancer, Avril set up Cancer Central in early 2018 to support cancer sufferers with the not-so-obvious considerations. For example, explains Avril, providing information about the hairdressers who supply wigs to those in need, and signposting to taxi services that support radiotherapy sessions. Cancer Central, in short, centralises the information around cancer.
After overcoming her own confrontation with cancer and returning to the workplace, Avril spent time in the non-profit sector trying to find out how she could help make support and information available to those who are searching for it. There was no such framework in place, so Avril went about creating it herself.
As Avril describes the initiative, it’s ‘cominnovation’ – a combination of community and innovation. Volunteers bring their specific skill sets to the table, offering assistance on a pro-bono basis.
Since its inception in January 2018, Cancer Central has attracted over 30,000 donated hours from over 200 individuals and 30 organisations. Besides facilitating contributions from individuals, Cancer Central is also a platform for a number of companies to fulfil CSR initiatives.
Last year, Avril met a RingCentral representative at a Charity IT Leaders event and discovered the opportunity to implement a unified communications platform for Cancer Central. The ‘unified’ part of the platform performs an essential function – with so many volunteers using multiple channels of communication, along with multiple methods of collaboration and document sharing, creating a single interface to unify that process was invaluable.
As Cancer Central is a network of volunteers, connecting multiple users remotely is essential to providing a fit-for-purpose platform. Using RingCentral Office, says Avril, makes it much easier to communicate, share and collaborate on documents, and conduct video calls with multiple participants. It’s also important to have an element of levity in communication; Avril appreciates the availability of GIFs and emojis that can help to convey sentiment without having to rely on words. All told, RingCentral creates the collaborative mechanism that allows Cancer Central to perform its function.
From personal experience, Avril explains, sometimes it’s by chance you discover the information that can help you – perhaps simply by being in the waiting room with someone at the same time – and it’s this element of luck that Cancer Central aims to remove by centralising as much information as possible.
To find out how you can become involved in Cancer Central, contact Avril via the website. To help organisations overcome the effects of Coronavirus on the operations, RingCentral is offering free RingCentral Office licences to non-profit organisations. Visit the website and get started today.
Interview in full
If you’d like to hear more from Avril, you can watch the full interview here:
Originally published May 14, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023