Vulnerable people in Belgium have been given a much needed boost during the COVID-19 quarantine with support from peer-to-peer home service platform Helpper.
The company’s online meeting place, which usually connects paid ‘helppers’ to people or organisations in need of assistance, has waived its charges and become a fully-fledged volunteer centre during the lockdown.
“By making it easy and safe to connect people in their own neighbourhood, we want to support the wave of solidarity during the Corona crisis,” Helpper founder Francois Gerard wrote in an announcement on LinkedIn.
Helpper users simply create a profile, describing what they offer, then can scour requests for help in the local area. While paid activity is usually wide-ranging — including cooking, accompaniment to medical appointments, cleaning or babysitting — Helpper’s switch to volunteering comes alongside a strict limit on possible quarantine activity.
Helpper is vanaf nu gratis voor alle hulpbehoevenden, vrijwilligers, gemeenten & organisaties in Vlaanderen en Brussel. Samen sterk om buren veilig en vlot te verbinden.https://t.co/7rIHBdWYci#Vlaanderenhelpt #samentegencorona@bartsomers @wbeke @crevits @Maggie_DeBlock pic.twitter.com/XSnBGcJUmi
— François Gerard (@fgerardOnline) March 18, 2020
Tasks are now limited to grocery shopping, conversation or tutoring over the phone, support with pets, and creating masks for care personnel.
“Anything outside these tasks is not considered necessary and is therefore not allowed to be performed as a volunteer,” the website reads.
“In this way we work together to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Cities and care organisations will thus have a bank of verified, insured volunteers to rely on as regular support mechanisms begin to close down.
Helpper’s reach is typically through healthcare, with services offered by family doctors, residential care centres, home nursing teams, pharmacists, social services and childcare centres.
“In this way we combine the personal services of a small company, the experience of experts, and the reach of major players,” the website adds.
Normal conditions see users pay €9 for every hour worked by a helpper, from which the helpper themselves receives €7 and remaining funds cover insurance and administration charges.
The startup raised €1m in funding in 2018 from Carevolution, a fund that supports care services.