A few weeks after writing Circuit breaker: Don’t forget our grandparents, I’ve found a new initiative that offers us the chance to help seniors who are living alone.
Launched to support this vulnerable group who are at higher risk this COVID-19 season, I Go For You (IG4U) aims to keep the elderly safe by matching them with volunteers who are willing to purchase groceries on their behalf.
An initiative by digital consultancy R/GA Singapore, Managing Director Dorothy Peng shared that a casual chat with the leadership team quickly snowballed into a brainstorm that would later see the wider company involved as employees were keen to use their collective skills – which range from design and technology to marketing communication – to develop a service that would make a difference to humanity.
It took just 10 days to go from ideation to launch, despite the team having to juggle their regular client work.
The idea is to protect the elderly by encouraging them to stay at home while young and well-abled members of the community help with their marketing and essential errands. Recognising that some seniors are already struggling with a sense of displacement during this period, the initiative hopes to bring love to them, especially those living alone.
“We’ve seen the harsh effects of COVID-19, especially on the more vulnerable groups of our community… We could all readily agree that the elderly were a group we wanted to help and one of the groups that needed the most support during this pandemic,” shared Dorothy.
“We all have the luxury of smartphones and being connected to the digital world, but these seniors usually don’t speak English and much less have access to smartphones to get their groceries delivered. So they have no choice but to head out themselves, and inadvertently expose themselves to more risk of catching the virus.”
HOW IG4U WORKS
Explaining how the service works, Dorothy said the elderly can call the IG4U hotline (3138 4399) and provide their postal code. They would then be matched to volunteers in their community who have signed up with IG4U’s Telegram Bot.
IG4U will get a nearby volunteer to call them back and confirm their delivery details. So for instance if you’re intending to head out to do your own grocery run, you can accept a request from an elderly who stays near you.
Once you have been paired with someone who needs help, just drop them a call and take down important details such as their order, delivery address and payment terms. Then head over to the supermarket to pick up the groceries and have them delivered!
Dorothy shared that within half an hour of the launch last week, they received three requests. To date, more than 100 volunteers have also signed up.
“I believe many people want to help. They just needed an avenue to do so,” she said in an interview, adding that her team has also reached out to charity organisations who might want to partner in propelling this initiative forward.
Instead of English, the hotline operates in Mandarin, and there are plans to include other languages and dialects in due course.
As someone who has been involved in helping the elderly in other ways, this is an initiative that is close to Dorothy’s heart.
For the past five years, she has been spending her Saturday mornings delivering food to senior citizens living in one-room flats as part of her volunteer work with Bethesda Care Services.
Seeing the kinds of hardship that many of the elderly are already facing before COVID-19, she believes that a service like IG4U can make a difference in supporting them during this pandemic.
“After all, the elderly are the ones that helped build Singapore and brought us to where we are today. It’s the least we can do in return for all their hard work,” Dorothy added.
The mother of two hopes her children will catch this same spirit of being outward-looking and caring for the community. As a Christian, she shared that her blessings come from God – and she wants to be able to bless others too.
“I don’t want my daughters to live in a bubble. Instead, I wanted to make sure they were serving others as well,” explained Dorothy.
Hearing about this initiative, I can’t help but think about my own grandmother who continues to buy her own groceries because she doesn’t want to trouble us.
And I believe my grandma isn’t the only one. If your grandparents live alone, let them know that the community is looking out for them.
There are two things to note for now: First, your grandparents need to be above 60 years old and second, there’s a $30 cap on their grocery purchase.
If your circumstances prevent you from directly helping the elderly through this manner, share this initiative with your circle of friends! Together we can bless this vulnerable group by rallying our peers.
Let’s go out of our way to love the elderly this COVID-19 season!
- What needs do you see around you?
- How can you step in to meet them?
- Share the news about this initiative with an elderly person who could benefit from it and/or friends who are looking for ways to help!