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It may be hard to admit; but everyone needs a little help or company now and then.

At the same time, both our database and research show that an astounding number of people is actually very eager to help their neighbours.

But how do you bring these two parts together successfully: those who need help on the one hand, and those who offer it on the other? Our neighbourhood care module might help. You’ll read all about it, in this article.

Spoiler alert: we do not believe in fully automatic matchmaking. As far as we are concerned, we’re still talking about human connection. Alright, there we go!

1. Spontaneous help requests on Hoplr

Through the ‘help request’ message type

On the neighbourhood digital network, it is the most normal thing in the world for users to share all kinds of questions:

  • Lost cat
  • Giving away an old couch
  • Looking for a ladder
  • Anyone else having trouble with the internet?

And yes, informal help questions too, are an important part of the neighbourhood network. For this, neighbours use the message type ‘Help request’.

Other residenst react if they wish to help out. Next, the original poster indicates that their help request is solved.

58% of help requests that are posted through Hoplr, get solved by a neighbour.

Through private chat

The other way around works too. In their profile, users indicate if and how they can help neighbours. They can choose between 70+ skills, among which are the following:

  • grocery shopping
  • keeping company
  • helping with computer problems
  • practicing a language

Neighbours who find it difficult to ask their question publicly, can browse the neighbour help list. That way, they can approach someone who has already indicated they are keen to help.

33% of new users make themself available to help neighbours through Hoplr.

2. Community development workers bridge supply and demand on Hoplr

Community development workers offer Hoplr an important value. But, that value goes both ways. Online, the social capital of a neighbourhood becomes much more visible. Read our guide for community development workers, here.

In any case, community development workers or associated profiles (both formal and informal caretakers) play an important role in the matching of help requests and help offers.

Capturing help requests

Ideally, the community worker will occasionally log onto Hoplr. In that case, they will often see residents’ help requests, just like the example above.

If a help request remains unanswered for some time, the community worker may be able to help out by:

  • addressing another user directly;
  • searching in their own network (in another Hoplr neighbourhood or completely outside Hoplr); or
  • referring them to a local organisation or service.

Posting help requests (anonymously)

When someone finds it difficult to ask for help, or when they don’t have access to the Hoplr neighbourhood (e.g. lack of computer skills), the community development worker might post a message in their name.

A community development worker writes: “[…] we received a question from worried parents. Their son has a mental disability and since corona, all of his activities have been cancelled. This kid loves to ride his bike and is looking for a buddy to escort him once a week for a refreshing bike ride.[…]

3. Launch a call

Similarly, the communications or social department might post a help request through the Service Dashboard (an external dashboard linked with several neighbourhoods, only available for paying local administrations or organisations).

To do this, dashboard users make us of a form. That has some benefits, compared to a normal neighbourhood message:

  • the help request can be posted in one, several or all registered neighbourhoods at once
  • it allows you to collect and export information in a structured manner (name, contact info, availability, …)
  • the form is shared in the neighbourhood through an external message, which stands out between normal neighbourhood messages.

A call through the Service Dashboard is preferable in case of a broader help request. In any case when the help of not one, but multiple residents is needed. Or simply when no community development workers are present.

The administration of Knokke-Heist publishes a call and writes: “Wanted – neighbour help: occasional care for 11 year old boy – We are urgently looking for volunteers to give an 11 year old a fun afternoon. […]

4. Volunteering lists

Also through the Service Dashboard, local administrations and organisations automatically gain access to the full list of local volunteers. These are the people who indicated they are available to help out neighbours, and that opted in for volunteering work.

Simply filter for the skills you are looking for, and contact volunteers who would be right for the job.

On average, 17% of the Hoplr neighbourhood agree to be contacted by external parties for local volunteering work.

5. BCQ

Finally, for a maximum coverage of available support within the neighbourhood, we have recently launched the Neighbourhood Concierge. Community members who need help on a regular basis subscribe, and call on BCQ whenever they need to. The Neighbourhood Concierge then provides a local, reliable solution.

BCQ is a software and service that we offer on top of Hoplr, while strongly depending on it. That’s because the Neighbourhood Concierge is trained to optimally use all of Hoplr’s functionalities, all the while maintaining a human connection with the resident in need of help (who are often senior citizens).

94% of help requests received by the Neighbourhood Concierge get solved by local residents and professionals.

This concept has been proven in Woluwe (Brussels) and will be launched in Aalst en Sint-Jans-Molenbeek soon. We are now preparing to further develop BCQ in close collaboration with local administrations.

Informal offer

As often as possible, the Neighbourhood Concierge finds a solution from the informal care offer in the neighbourhood. Think of volunteers and ordinary neighbours willing to lend a hand. For this, the Neighbourhood Concierge can often turn to Hoplr.

Accommodating a request for help in this informal way in the neighbourhood has important advantages:

  • It is more affordable than the help of a professional
  • It allows the creation of an important neighbourly relationship
  • It encourages reciprocity in the neighbourhood

Formal offer

When the informal offer does not provide a solution, only then does the Neighbourhood Concierge look into the local offer of professionals.

The Neighbourhood Concierge still keeps an eye on the budget of the person seeking help, and also takes care of background checks, follow-up and payment.

Download the final report below.

Our Neighbourhood Concierges Monica en Claire

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