How we're using technology to build a new model of volunteering

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Social isolation and loneliness affects 1.2 million older people across the UK. The effects of retirement, bereavement, or children moving away can leave an older person feeling lonely, vulnerable and excluded from society. Our research shows that regular contact from a volunteer leads to better health, happiness and overall wellbeing. The number of initiatives to help older people in the UK is rising, but finding isolated people and providing them with support and companionship can be a difficult task. We want to use technology to start solving this problem.

In April 2018 we launched onHand - the only app that connects older people with a security-checked, local volunteer in London.  

Since we launched, we’ve had over 1000 volunteers sign up, demonstrating the massive demand to give something back. Even more impressive is that the vast majority of these people don’t currently volunteer. Traditional volunteering models often require a regular commitment which can prove tricky for urbanites with hectic lifestyles. onHand provides micro-volunteering opportunities that fit around busy lifestyles, adding to the 15.2 million people that already volunteer monthly in the UK.

Before a volunteer can provide support they undergo a DBS check and an interview with a member of the onHand team, they then have access to training and ongoing support via the app. Our app also allows them to schedule appointments around their digital calendars to help with a range of everyday tasks from shopping and errands, to simply checking in for a cup of tea. Once they complete their tasks, they can request a voluntary donation to charity in exchange for their time.

We’re using technology to take the heavy lifting out of volunteering. The onHand app has been designed to:

  • Handle all background checks and ID verification,

  • Safety check-ins,

  • Ratings & reviews,

  • Connect relatives and older people with volunteers and our team,

  • Monitor for any infringement of our code of conduct.

This means that our team can spend more time on what really matters - regular engagement with our community to ensure their safety and security is taken care of.

We want to empower volunteers to take complete control over the time and frequency of their voluntary commitments. We want to use technology to make social care social again.

How to get involved:

If you want to volunteer, please download the app and sign up here.

If you or anyone you know would like to use the onHand service then please email our Community Manager Yvette at hello@beonhand.co.uk.

Written by Georgina Grange-Bennett, Community Champion at onHand