Debbie Chats Foodbanks

How we can make foodbanks more visible?



August 20, 2021

Hi9, a Cornish AI company, recently hired Debbie – a first-of-her-kind, emotionally intelligent, Artificial Friend. @Chat2Debbie about the People Hub project, arrange a call-back, and now find your local foodbank.  

Since the start of the pandemic, over 2.5 million people have accessed a foodbank in the UK. This is an increase of 33% on the previous year, with the Trussell Trust delivering over 200,000 emergency food parcels to the Southwest alone. Breaking the idyllic stereotype, Cornwall’s poverty and deprivation was featured by BBC presenter Simon Reeve in 2020, with the situation set to worsen as furlough and government aid finishes in September.  

To help address this escalating issue, data scientists at Hi9 have developed a new way to access foodbanks in Cornwall. By collating all existing datasets, including opening times, contact details and distance from the user, the information is made easily available using Natural Language Processing – a quick chat with Debbie, and you’re away. Using AI to deliver information on foodbank services has never been done before, and it’s here to stay, with at least three years upkeep guaranteed.  

Hi9 will be working directly with foodbanks in order to discuss how you can best be supported. f you have a foodbank you’d like listed, or if you’d like to give us more details on the services your foodbank offers, please email:

Part-funded by the European Social Fund with additional investment from Cornwall Council, People Hub partners include Konnect Communities, Smartmatching, Hi9 and the Isles of Scilly Council.  

You can chat to Debbie at or, and she’ll soon be popping up on Facebook, Whatsapp, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Debbie can tell you about People Hub services in your area, provide information on Job Centres and Foodbanks, and even arrange a call-back. She won’t be offended if you want to speak to a ‘real’ person, after all, ‘real’ is a matter of perspective.