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Helpific - the new generation of welfare services

11:43:00 PM

ICT changes the world of young with disabilities

Helpific is an online platform that connects people with special needs with volunteers who are ready to help them in their local community. The platform was established in 2014 in Tallinn by young, enthusiastic people from different professional areas to build this trustful relationship between vulnerable people and fellow citizens in the community. 

In a traditional welfare model vulnerable people, such as people with disabilities, elderly, people with mental health problems, families with many children, minority groups are served by social and health services. And these services are provided by the state and/or by local governments. Well-established welfare states like Finland and the Netherlands spend 30-33% of their GDP on social expenditures in order to provide proper services. 

Estonia follows a different economic model where the state only spends 15-16% of a relevantly lower GDP on social expenditures. We created Helpific as we realized that in this special Estonian model we need to mobilize existing community resources to meet the needs of vulnerable people. 

Introducing the fascinating sharing economy model and relying on modern Information and communication technology (ICT) can be a relevant solution to the continuous lack of public resources in the welfare system of Estonia. Sharing economy is a hybrid market model and social phenomenon which refers to peer-to-peer based sharing of access to goods and services using modern information technology.[1] Sharing economy is not only successful in market oriented business models but also represents a new approach in welfare, providing a unique opportunity to empower individuals and communities.

The sharing economy relies on the will of the users to share, but in order to make an exchange, users have to be trustworthy. Sharing economy organizations are committed to building and validating trusted relationships between members of their community.[2]

Young people, the modern new generation of Estonians are very important in this project. We believe, that modern technology, internet, the different gadgets we are using every day, are not only about fancy apps or entertaining computer games. This technology can serve people, strengthen communities, and we can create more connection between each other.

Helpific connetcs young people with disabilities with other young people, helps to find friends and live life without boarders
In Estonia apr. 25% of the population participates in informal voluntary activities, and young people are even more active. 27,5% of 16-24 years old Estonians are involved into voluntary work, while this figure in the age group of 25-29 is already above 31%. (Source: Eurostats)

Helpific tries to reach this generation by bringing modern ICT technology into a traditional field. Usually, voluntary works happen through non-governmental or charity organizations and churches. Helpific creates direct, peer-to-peer connection between people without any necessary affiliation to formal organizations. The platform is an easy to handle website that works on every devices. It can be managed on PCs, laptops, tablets and also on smartphones that are the most popular personal devices of young people nowadays. Knowing that the young generation is already shows growing activity in community and voluntary work we wanted to create a tool that makes helping easier and faster than ever. 

Our other aim is to reconstruct the perception of disabilities and the status of people with disability in the society. Young people are again very important in this process. If we can deliver a new, different message about disabilities the new generation will grow up with an attitude where disability is one of the many qualities of a person and not the person itself. We try to get rid of the gray, medical picture of mental health and disability care where people are turned to be a patient or a client, surrounded with the feeling of pity and their entire identity is around their disability and its care. People with disabilities are people like us. We need more encounter with each other in a normal, community setting and disability will be fading away giving space to other, more individual characters of a person. Helpific would like to create encounters like this.

Zsolt Bugarszki, Head of Helpific International

[1] Hamari, Juho; Sjöklint, Mimmi; Ukkonen, Antti (2015). "The Sharing Economy: Why People Participate in Collaborative Consumption". Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. doi:10.1002/asi.23552.
[2] Charles, Green (May 2, 2012). "Trusted and Being Trusted in the Sharing Economy". Forbes. Retrieved 13 June 2013.

English Helpific innovation New Tendencies in Welfare people with disabilities personal assistent service positive attitude development sharing economy startup stigma volunteering

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