A helping hand for parents

For those that don’t already know, can you please explain a bit about Close to Hand?

Close to Hand is an online platform that connects you to people (Home Helpers) in your local area who can offer a helping hand and companionship. I designed the site to offer people an easy way to source their own help as and when they require it, and at the same time enable local people to find flexible work with a purpose.

Close to Hand allows you to harness the power of the internet to connect with people in your area, at your discretion, and build a network of local contacts that you can call on. You determine the level of help and the period of time you require it; whether that’s a one off, daily, once a week or on an ad-hoc basis. You can browse local helper profiles and connect directly with them via our secure messaging service.

When you first launched, it was mainly just for the older market but you’ve recently opened up the service, why is that?

I originally launched Close to Hand as an online community to connect older people with local helpers. I had been working in the elderly care market for nearly nine years and felt there was a real need for ad hoc, flexible help that didn’t involve professional care but a little helping hand with small jobs around the home, such as housework, gardening, shopping, going on errands and meal preparation. 

However, towards the end of last year we were receiving more and more enquiries from a younger demographic. It made me realise that actually there are many reasons people look for help at home, at different times throughout their lives. I think most of us have either been in a situation where we've needed a helping hand or, at the least, we can picture a time when we'd appreciate another person around to offer assistance.

So, Close to Hand has naturally evolved to provide an extra helping hand to people at every stage of their life as and when they need it; as we age, following surgery, hospital treatment or a fall, living with a chronic condition, coming to terms with a bereavement or the arrival of a new baby.

I am due my second baby later this year so the idea of a bit of help during this time is appealing. Can you explain a bit more about the type of help you offer?

Many of us know that a newborn is a monumental life change. Those first few days, weeks and months can be exhausting and at times lonely. Often there are days when you’re stuck on the sofa with a baby that’s finally nodded off but you haven’t eaten yourself for hours, you’re nearly out of nappies and haven’t had a chance to get to the shops, you have a huge pile of washing, work to crack on with and housework to do. During that time, having someone local who you can call on to pop in and help out with those everyday tasks whilst you take some time to rest and recover can make a big difference to your mental and physical wellbeing, particularly if you are parenting solo or living far from family that would otherwise step in to help and support you. 

It is important not to underestimate the difference companionship, conversation and someone making you a hot cup of tea can make during this time; particularly if that person has been where you are right now and can offer support and a listening ear.

What would you say to anyone thinking about getting some help?

We could all do with an extra pair of hands now and again and there is no shame in getting some practical help to make your life a little easier. With Close to Hand, you are in control and determine the level of help required and when. From the comfort of your own home, day or night, you can browse local helper profiles and make a connection.






ParentingHope Marshall