Appy Neighbours

4 June 2019 | West and South West England

Saf Nazeer, one of the founders of Helpful Peeps

The brilliant new app that helps people help each other.

We all aspire to have and be good neighbours. But public-spirited Suffia Hussain and her children took that ambition to a whole new level after moving to a new community.

They were the first Muslim family on the street and knew no-one. But determined to make friends, she soon set about changing that... and with a little help from a fantastic new enterprise that connects local people, she was able to bring her whole street together.

“In my religion, it is a massive thing to look after your neighbours,” she explains. “So I was straight over with chocolates and dishes of food.”

The effort was appreciated, and over time her neighbours were there for her as she recovered from a painful divorce.

“My marriage broke down and I was left as a single mother to raise three young children by myself. All the neighbours played their part in helping me through those days. One allowed me to use their dishwasher, another sent soup over, and another was a shoulder to cry on. They all helped.”

The fantastic community spirit meant that when Suffia realised an elderly neighbour with dementia was no longer able to get out and was feeling very isolated, she was determined to help.

She discovered an inspirational new app called Helpfulpeeps, designed to help people help each other. It is a platform for peer-to-peer help that has enabled thousands to connect in their local community and it is free to join.

Founded by Saf Nazeer, Simon Hills and Dominic Chapman the idea was to recreate the best elements of traditional community life where people helped each other out. Once you’ve signed up to the app you can post a request for the help you need or browse through other users’ posts to see if you can help anyone out with their request.

And each time you help someone you earn karma, which builds your reputation on the network. You also receive a special thank you message from the person you have helped. Suffia logged on and posted a request for a photographer.

As her neighbour could no longer go out and chat to local friends, Suffia had the idea of surrounding her with pictures of the community so she would not feel so isolated. She wanted to create permanent good memories for her elderly neighbour to enjoy in the comfort of her home when she was alone.

“She had stopped going out as she would forget her way home. So I had an idea, If she couldn't come out and visit us, we would visit her. Permanently, in photographs.

“I made an account on Helpfulpeeps and posted a request looking for a photographer, who would help create some memories for my elderly neighbour with dementia.

“About a week later, I received a response, ‘have you found a photographer yet? If not, I would absolutely love to help. I’m not a professional but I’m getting there’.

I sent him my number and he arranged to come for a community photo shoot. He took some amazing photographs and made the whole neighbourhood buzz that afternoon. It has taught my children how to be good neighbours.”

There are now active Helpfulpeeps communities in over a dozen cities across the UK, with over 200,000 members signed up. Bristol is currently their most “helpful” city with over 15,000 member regularly helping each other.

Saf, who is based in Bristol, says: “Despite the internet revolution and the advancement of technology it can be argued that we are more disconnected than ever. We wanted to create a platform that enables people to connect and help each other in the real world. We want to bring back that sense of community.

“We’re on a mission to create the world’s most helpful network. Our ethos is simple – ask for help when you want and help others whenever you can.”

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