Help Exchange, HelpX for short, was launched back in April 2001 by Rob Prince from England. He has travelled extensively throughout Australia and New Zealand over several years, during which time he worked at several locations for accommodation and sometimes for meals as well. These places were usually farms or backpackers' hostels. He sometimes used the casual system where owners of farms ask for help by putting up notices on hostel notice boards. There are also schemes producing booklets that list such places. But, realising the best way for many prospective helpers to find suitable hosts was via a system that operated online and finding there was no such thing available, he decided to develop one himself. It was a great opportunity to put his new Web development skills to use after gaining a Diploma in Internet Technology.
HelpX has steadily grown over the years both by number of hosts and helpers, as well as by continual further development adding new features and improvements all the time. Two years after HelpX was launched Rob had a life changing accident whilst paragliding which resulted in extensive injuries to his lower legs and feet. Due to complications Rob could not walk unaided for nearly 4 years and even now has only limited mobility. What was a disaster for Rob proved to be a boost for HelpX as Rob was stuck at home for along time. To make good use of his time and keep his mind off his predicament, he channelled most of his energy into further developing HelpX.
Now that Rob is well enough to travel, and now that HelpX has grown, Rob is visiting hosts, advising them how to get the most out of the HelpX system. He is getting direct feedback on how well it is working from both hosts' and helpers' perspectives. From this feedback he is finding even more ways to fine-tune and further develop the HelpX system.
We hope you find Help Exchange to be a useful service. Help Exchange relies heavily on word of mouth for new members to discover the service, so please pass the word on to others who may be interested in it. You may wish to put up a poster at your local hosts, backpacker hostel, information centre, internet cafe, etc. Click here for our poster page.