An online compliment to existing abortion healthcare services, Dopo will soon be offering holistic abortion support that includes access to trained practitioners and self‑care resources.
Currently, Dopo provides abortion support to people before, during or after their abortion. They are also in the process of creating a digital peer support community, allowing people to access essential information and care to help them with all aspects of their experience – medical, physical and emotional.
The platform co‑op is the creation of Zachi Brewster, who has worked as an abortion doula for the past five years. A doula is a trained companion who supports another individual through a significant health‑related experience.
Inspired by her own abortion and her work supporting others, she created Dopo in March 2021.
"When I had an abortion, I couldn’t find many organisations or spaces that could support me. The few I did find were centred around post‑miscarriage services. There was no support for people like me," Zachi recalls.
She saw the need for a service incorporating self‑care, community care and healthcare, offering support with emotional needs and connecting people with shared experience.
"Dopo was already a half-formed wish in 2019, but the community and Covid were the catalysts that helped it bloom," Zachi explains. "Everything went online and virtual, plus people spent a bit more time to reflect on their experiences and find support."
So she set about forming a multi‑stakeholder co‑operative, owned and run by abortion support seekers and providers. Dopo’s formation has been supported by the UnFound Accelerator – a 10‑week business development programme for fledgling co‑ops that use mobile apps or online platforms to provide services and solutions.
Delivered by Co‑operatives UK in partnership with Stir to Action, and supported by The Co‑operative Bank, the programme draws on an extensive network of experts to help platform co‑ops plan their businesses and develop their products, strategy, branding and marketing.
"We had explored setting up as a charity or as a limited company, but we felt that the co‑operative model aligns with our values most. However, we knew very little about the practicalities of building a co‑operative, so we jumped at the opportunity to join the UnFound accelerator," says Zachi.
"For us, using tech was never meant to replace the human connection around our services, but it has been interesting for us to explore how to provide smooth and relatively quick access to support, whilst also ensuring people feel seen and safe while using our platform."
The Unfound programme culminated in a live pitching event where teams competed for a share in a £10,000 prize fund provided by The Co‑operative Bank. Dopo came second in the event and received £2,063 to support them in the next steps of developing their platform co‑op.
"Our 10‑weeks with the UnFound team have been invaluable in moving us from an idea to a growing community, and now with access to this fund, we will continue building our platform based on this upgraded approach to support."