A free online service that matches people with others to share knowledge and skills via video call – whether you need a maths tutor or want to learn how to cook – has adapted to match volunteers with people who need help during the Covid-19 crisis.
CareToShare, now free to use until July next year, uses geolocation to show volunteers if there are self-isolating elderly and less able people nearby who need help food shopping and getting medicine or who could do with some emotional support.
It’s hoped the site will help bolster the already growing sense of community in the UK as people come together to support each other through the public health emergency.
Co-founder and CEO Nicholas Segrue said: “As the reality of the enormity of the COVID-19 crisis dawned on us, we immediately switched into a state of ‘what can we do to help people using the technology we have?'”
As the coronavirus crisis grew across the globe, CareToShare saw a 400 per cent surge in traffic – both from people looking to help out vulnerable people in their area and from those who had lost streams of income and hoped to earn some extra money through tutoring or sharing other skills.
“We soon realised people would continue to learn new skills using our website,” Segrue added. “We then rapidly built a Covid-19 support tasks section so that users could take advantage of our geolocation function to assist the elderly and vulnerable near them that needed help such as getting their food shopping, collecting prescriptions and providing phone calls for the lonely.
“Finally, we took the decision to make the website free to use until July 2021 so that those users who charge for their skills and tasks can do so while we enter a period of economic recovery without having anything to pay to us for doing so.”
Gloria used CareToShare to assist children with reading after years of trying to make such a venture fit in with a busy family life. Now she has a regular small group of children whose mothers bring them for reading lessons and has been reading to kids over video calls during lockdown.
“I had spent several years looking forward to being able to assist children with their reading and had wondered how I would facilitate doing so, whether I would find a local community project or have to approach a junior school and offer help,” Gloria said. “I was delighted to find CareToShare allowed me to assemble a group of children to teach and both them and I have really benefitted from the experience.”
CareToShare was founded in 2018 by Segrue and Guy Bormann with sustainability in mind – and they hope it will prove to be a valuable tool for people when the time for economic recovery kicks in post-pandemic.
The service also brought together Pari and Indy. Pari decided she wanted to improve her English after her family moved from Iran to the UK, and her request reached Indy who was looking to help foreign nationals learn the language.
“I have always felt that London has given so much to me during my life and is such a fantastic multicultural city but that I have not been able to put enough back into the community,” Indy said. “I decided when I saw CareToShare that I would try and give something back assisting recently arrived foreign nationals with learning English.
“I did not know how effective I would be but being tri-lingual, I thought I would give it a go. Several months later I have seen Pari go from speaking not a word of English to being able to shop for her children and grandchildren speaking enough English to get by. The feeling having helped is a feeling money can’t buy!”
Users don’t need to have qualifications to share their knowledge and can commit as much or as little time as they like by registering for an account.
The coronavirus pandemic has powered communities to pull together as the Mutual Aid Group movement has also exploded across the country.
More than 1,000 community groups have were set up through Facebook in the past month and a half, with more being added by the hour, with national group COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK keeping track of them all.