Kiwis proved their willingness to lend a helping hand when 183 people stepped in to take a woman's dogs for walks during a family emergency.

The woman signed up for help on the online platform Support Crew after her husband rushed overseas to be with a dying relative, leaving her to care for their three children under five.

"She wanted help walking the dogs, that was her one big thing," said Support Crew co-founder Kelly Banks.

"Pet care is actually something that people often forget about."


Banks, from Auckland, launched the platform with her co-founder, Janine Williams, after they each went through personal challenges of their own.

Banks' partner, Randal McAlister, was diagnosed with cancer three years ago and she discovered life quickly became more complicated as she turned into his chief support person.

Kelly Banks realised she needed more support when he partner Randal McAlister was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Photo / Supplied
Kelly Banks realised she needed more support when he partner Randal McAlister was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. Photo / Supplied

"I've just been able to witness myself not being able to ask for help," she said.

While friends were quick to say "let me know what I can do to help", the well-meaning offers were difficult to accept at a time where everything felt overwhelming.

"Kiwis are caring and helpful, but often when we find ourselves flooded with offers of help it becomes too difficult to accept or coordinate these kind offers. How do we say yes? Where do we start?

"Offering help can itself be difficult too, especially because most of us don't really know how to go about it, or even what our friends and family really need."

Support Crew was designed as a way to empower people to ask for help when they need it, whether they were going through a tragedy, an illness, a disaster, or even a life event such as having a baby.

Users can create a support page for free and share it with whoever they want, and can make requests for assistance, which friends and family can sign up for.


The pages are commonly used for meal rosters, help with cleaning, and companionship, but can also be used by people asking for advice, needing their pets looked after, or even someone needing help changing a lightbulb.

"We used it as an online meal roster so that we could ask for meals for when my mum and I came home from hospital after being with Randal all day," Banks said.

"I think we just see too many Kiwis not liking to ask for help and carrying that full burden of a life event without asking for help, despite the fact that people really want to help and connect with your journey."

People from 18 different countries and 120 cities have signed up to the site to either request help or offer it.

Some helpers were sending meals from as far afield as London, Banks said.

"It's like a little virtual village.

"It's a pretty powerful way of being able to bring people together to help someone through a journey that's really difficult."

One man whose wife was terminally ill used his page to ask for advice.

"He tells us that by doing that it saves him a lot of time and he can actually spend more time with her and the kids."

Banks and Williams have a goal to help 1000 more people before Christmas.

They have teamed up with AMP as a sponsor, which Banks said was "key" to reaching more people who needed help but didn't know how to ask for it.

"We're trying to really empower people who are going through a life event to drop that fear of asking for help and set up the pages for themselves."