COVID-19 SPECIAL

Coronavirus: App connects neighbours to do good in the 'hood

Mr Nigel Teo is one of four people behind the GoodHood.SG app, which enables neighbours to share items and services, either by selling them or donating them. About 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the posts on the app are from people offering help.
Mr Nigel Teo is one of four people behind the GoodHood.SG app, which enables neighbours to share items and services, either by selling them or donating them. About 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the posts on the app are from people offering help.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

A student on home quarantine posted on an app asking for help getting new guitar strings, as his had broken. Almost immediately, several people responded, and one person living in his neighbourhood delivered strings to his doorstep, for free.

This exchange was made possible through the GoodHood.SG app, the brainchild of entrepreneur Nigel Teo, 39, and three others.

The app is a free platform enabling registered, verified neighbours to share items and services, either by selling them or donating them.

Soft launched on March 22, it now has more than 550 users, with the number growing by about 10 per cent a day despite no formal marketing strategy, says Mr Teo.

About 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the posts on the app are from people offering help, ranging from buying groceries and dog walking, to offering cooked meals, he says. The rest are from people seeking help.

Some 40 people have also requested masks for themselves or elderly neighbours.

GoodHood.SG has about 1,000 packs of two masks to give away to those who need them.

The app hopes to build the "kampung spirit" and neighbourliness, and while it was originally set to be launched later this year, Mr Teo says his team worked hard through many nights for it to be available during the coronavirus outbreak.

"Often, people don't help one another because they don't know others need help or they don't see others helping," notes Mr Teo.

 
 
 
 

It has been touching seeing people offer their help, and that the community is gathering together during these tough times, he says. His team is looking for community leads within neighbourhoods to help engage residents and answer questions.

The app will also now allow for front-liners and healthcare workers to identify as such on the app, so that "GoodHooders" will know they are on the platform and can extend their kindness to them.

"It's tough now, with people losing their jobs and sectors being hit badly. If there is a sense of community, and people give what they can and they have, then neighbours can know one another better.

"If the neighbours care, it's a safe space and it is less likely that you will struggle alone," says Mr Teo.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 05, 2020, with the headline 'App connects neighbours to do good in the 'hood'. Subscribe