‘Tech for good’ volunteering start-up onHand publish their Impact Report in collaboration with NICA and Newcastle Building Society

Impact of innovation in volunteering extends further than people just receiving help, report finds


As the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world in 2020 we saw the importance of health and wellbeing grow. Two things became more obvious: the care sector is in need of innovation, and that mental health issues were on the rise. In collaboration with Newcastle Building Society, we teamed up with a tech-for-good company, onHand, to launch an innovative and convenient way of volunteering in the North East using a smartphone app. The app flags tasks for local volunteers to pick up and aims to help thousands of people by providing employees with a simple, safe and flexible way to make a positive impact in their communities.

The ‘do good, feel good’ effect of volunteering means that 80% of employees who give up their time to help others will benefit from a positive impact on their own lives, according to a new report on the rise of micro-volunteering.

  • 91.7% of people getting help said it made them feel either a little, or a lot better than usual
  • 58.3% of people getting help said if the service wasn’t available they wouldn’t reach out to anyone and would remain as they are
  • 46.7% of employee volunteers said providing help has helped them combat feelings of loneliness or isolation
  • 80% of employee volunteers said that offering help has had a positive or very positive impact on their life

The onHand Impact Report explored the impact of this new way of employee volunteering in the North East and found that it’s not just those receiving help through volunteering that feel the benefit.

The report found that by encouraging volunteering amongst their workforce – and helping those people in need – businesses can also expect to improve the mental wellbeing of their employees, with nearly half of those surveyed saying volunteering benefits their mental health.

Nationally, an estimated 1.4 million older people have unmet needs for social care and 200 million corporate volunteering hours are currently being unused per year.

Most tasks completed through the app are easy, flexible and fit neatly around work commitments. So-called ‘micro-volunteering’ tasks such as companionship calls, shopping and dog walking are popular with volunteers and those benefiting from the service.

Findings from the report showed nearly 60% of those using the service, many of whom are living alone or are isolated, wouldn’t have asked for help if onHand wasn’t available. Over 90% of respondents said that using the service has made them feel better than usual, giving them someone to talk to and helping to build confidence.

Andrew Haigh, CEO at Newcastle Building Society, says:

Volunteering is a core commitment we make to our communities and we provide two paid days for every colleague to do this. Our colleagues have taken up the onHand opportunity with enthusiasm, so far completing around 750 COVID-safe tasks to help local people. To a volunteer it might be a relatively small act of giving, delivering a prescription or walking a dog for example, but for the person on the receiving end it creates an important social connection and provides valuable practical support.

Sanjay Lobo, CEO at onHand, adds:

During the pandemic we’ve seen a huge rise in employees working remotely and companies looking for new ways to engage teams. Research from Deloitte has also shown us that over 77% of employees want to volunteer. We’re delighted to see both the positive impact volunteering has had on the Society employees and those requesting help. We look forward to supporting many more during the continued partnership.

Our Director, Nic Palmarini, comments:

This project has demonstrated how ageing innovation lies first and foremost in identifying what people want, then combining this with factors such as technology, new business models, empathy and engagement to deliver new ideas and projects through collaboration with people and businesses. Now more than ever, citizens, enterprises and businesses need to explore new ways to work together to make a positive impact on society. Thousands of volunteering missions have now been completed in the North East and this project is living proof of how you can use Ageing Intelligence® to help design a fairer and more sustainable future for our ageing society.  Every single volunteering mission has made a huge difference to employees and the people they support in the North East. We are so proud of this project and the impact it is making, none of it possible without working together.

Since the start of the partnership, more than 1,000 local volunteering missions in the North East have been completed using the onHand app, with around 75% of those undertaken by colleague volunteers at Newcastle Building Society.

The full Impact Report can be downloaded here: OnHand – The Impact Report