News Article

New service tasks students to help isolated people during coronavirus

Posted 17th April 2020 • Written by •

The #Task4Help initiative recruits time-rich students to source supplies for vulnerable people who can’t leave their homes due to coronavirus

With universities closed due to coronavirus, students have plenty of time on their hands. Meanwhile many vulnerable people can’t leave their homes to collect basic supplies.

Offering a solution for idle hands and isolation is a new initiative called #Task4Help, which isolated individuals can use to task students to go out and fetch supplies for them.

The initiative was launched by the founders of UniTaskr, an app that is ordinarily used to post freelance jobs for university students.

Nina Richards, 82, from Hertfordshire was an early adopter of the service. “UniTaskr has been my saviour as I am alone and isolated,” she said. “It was easy to use and the delightful, friendly young people that have helped me have been incredible.” Many students hung around for chats through the window, she added.

The service works like this: isolated people post a delivery task on the UniTaskr app or via the website outlining what they need, when they need it and where they need it delivered.

Students in the area are then notified and can apply for the task. The poster then assigns a student to the task, and are put into a private chat to communicate the finer details. When goods are purchased, the student sends an image of the receipt alongside the task price (if one has been agreed) for the buyer to release payment. The delivery is then made.

"The delightful, friendly young people that have helped me have been incredible"

Students can choose to waive the cost of the items and the time given, and people are able to post tasks on someone else’s behalf, say for a relative who isn’t tech savvy.

Chi Chin, 21, a student at the University of Manchester, signed up for the initiative after her regular job was put on hold. “I thought, I’m not doing anything useful in my house any way, why not go out there and actually help people who need it?” she said.

Some 10,000 students use the UniTaskr app, according to its founders, Joseph Black and Oliver Jacobs, who wanted to use the platform to do something positive during the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the virus started to impact the economy, we immediately started to think about how we could help the most at-risk people and at the same time, empower our army of students,” said Black.

Image: Leonie Wise 

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