12 May 2017

Using Uber-like technology to increase the rate of community volunteerism is the aim of a University of Queensland graduate.

Help Me With It is the brainchild of UQ Business School graduate Nicole Peterman, who saw an innovative way to simultaneously assist people in need and combat a decline in volunteering.

“People have been volunteering less in Australia, because they can’t commit to regular volunteering, or because they don’t find out about opportunities fast enough,” Ms Peterman said.

“Help Me With It is particularly helpful for people who want to volunteer on an irregular basis, putting them directly in touch with those that need assistance with one-off tasks, and doing so in a timely manner.

“It could be for one-off tasks such as gardening, resume-writing or cleaning, at a time when it suits the helper best.

“The service has just expanded to five council areas in South East Queensland – Brisbane, Redlands, Moreton Bay, Logan and Ipswich.”

Current tasks on Help Me With It include helping to back-up a laptop, putting together a bird aviary, and sorting someone’s books and puzzles to send to remote Indigenous communities.

Ms Peterman said the concept had similarities to Airtasker, but came with the feel-good element of helping somebody in need out of the kindness of your heart.

She revealed that Help Me With It had already drawn an emotive response from the community.

“One of our members was moved to tears when a volunteer worked with her to create a resume template that she could customise for different roles,” Ms Peterman said.

“Her contract role at the time was coming to end, her confidence had taken a beating, and she was struggling to prepare a resume that resonated with prospective employers.”

Each request for assistance on Help Me With It offers the requestor a chance to tell a little about their situation and why they need help.

They can also give an insight into how their situation may improve or what the end result could be if they receive a helping hand.

“I think the timing is perfect for Help Me With It,” Ms Peterman said.

“There is growing familiarity with similar platforms like Uber and Airtasker, and so many of us are accustomed to using our phones and websites to create profiles and message others.

“Conversely, I also feel there is general fatigue towards repeatedly and blindly donating to causes, and people want to establish a personal connection in the causes they support.

“Help Me With It allows people to achieve a connection and provides first-hand evidence of the difference being made.”

Image caption: Volunteer David helped pensioner Natalie build a garden. 

Media: Nicole Peterman, nicole@helpmewithit.org.au, 0439 078 176.