I slept and dreamed that life was joy,
I awoke and saw that life was service,
I acted and behold service was joy. Rabindranàth Tagore
Whether it involves help with cat sitting or learning a new language, moving a sofa or lending a hand at a charity event, helpfulpeeps has seen the need requested – and fulfilled by a kind stranger.
In a matter of months, www.helpfulpeeps.com – a social network based on the idea of the gift economy and paying it forward – has amassed more than 7,000 users throughout the world.
The initiative, which originated in Britain, is premised on a simple idea: “Ask for help whenever you want; help others whenever you can.”
“We noticed the ongoing disconnect in society and our over-reliance on money to solve our problems,” says Simon Hills, a cofounder. “We were also amazed to find that there are 12 million people in the UK who used to volunteer and would love to get back into it, but existing barriers such as finding suitable opportunities and ongoing time commitments get in the way.”
Enter helpfulpeeps, intended by its founders to help make it easy for those seeking help to find those willing to offer it. Without the requirement of an ongoing commitment and with the flexibility of being able to offer support in person or even remotely – as in the case of virtual software or technological assistance – the objective is to offer a more fulfilling relationship between users.
“We call it the ‘karma economy,’ ” Mr. Hills says. “Ultimately, it aims to save people money and develop a network of like-minded, helpful people, willing to lend a hand within the local and global community.”
Still in its infancy, the site has seen nearly 500 requests with a 79-percent success rate – something its founders view as indicative of the true beneficence of the community of users. Users can ask for assistance for anything, and the requests have varied widely.
“Quite possibly the ‘best’ story was one of our very first posts – it was from an Australian lady who wanted to be reunited with her long lost friend of 15 years from when she used to live in Telford, [England]” Hills says. “We seriously didn’t expect this kind of post at all, but the community rallied together, and we are pleased to announce that they have since been reunited.”
While the movement originated in Bristol, England, its founders have high hopes that the network will continue to expand globally. There are already users and community ambassadors in the United States, Hills says, who are bringing helpfulpeeps to their communities.
In the short term, Hills wants to grow to 10,000 members, with the ultimate ambition of establishing “the world’s most helpful network. Our vision is to build a global community with millions of people helping one another every day,” he says.
Anyone interested in joining can do so for free by visiting the initiative’s website – www.helpfulpeeps.com. Those interested in serving as ambassadors or community leaders can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hills said running helpfulpeeps is a labor of love, driven by the potential to do good in communities around the world. Both Hills and his close friend and co-founder, Saf Nazeer, presently volunteer their time to manage the project, which does not generate any revenue. Both he and Mr. Nazeer left their previous careers to develop and grow helpfulpeeps, Hills says.
“We both quit decent careers in sales and engineering to follow this passion and love every minute of it,” he says. “I am personally motivated every day to grow helpfulpeeps into an awesome global community.”
Learn more at http://www.helpfulpeeps.com
From the December 2, 2015 CS Monitor, David Karas, Correspondent