“Your radishes, do you prefer round or taller? And the cream, which one do you want me to take? Robert Hue (unrelated to his communist name) asked about the needs of 92-year-old Roberte Jobert. At the old woman’s apartment, on the edge of the Marne in Château-Thierry (Aisne), he simply entrusted her, as every Wednesday, to his shopping list. He will do it for her.
Between Roberte and Robert, the ritual is well regulated. With the list, he handed her an envelope: it contained a blank check, already signed, and an identity card that he would present at the cash desk. “I trust him completely,” the nonagenarian said. “She has been helping me for two years and it is so precious to have a volunteer like her. In a pleasant feeling, he always taunts her: “It’s practical, when I lift my finger, he comes! More seriously, I try not to abuse it.»
Because the interested party just doesn’t care about him. Since 2019 and the arrival of Bip Pop in the town of Jean de La Fontaine, Robert has struggled. In three years, Bip Pop has made a name for itself in the City of Fables, where this platform has taken on its full meaning during a health crisis. The device is simple: connect, via a mobile app or a website, old, vulnerable, alone, with caregivers. Needs come in the form of notices, which they can respond to.
In the spring of 2022, the city will have 60 volunteers and 200 beneficiaries. In 2021, 900 interventions were recorded. They will cross the thousands by 2022. At the national level, Anne Guénand, the founder of Bip Pop, counts “3500 volunteers and 3500 beneficiaries”. His invention was adopted by “1077 communities”.
They took a subscription to Bip Pop, then put it to music. At Château-Thierry, “it’s CCAS* that uses our platform”, explains Fabrice Ducrocq, Bip Pop’s development agent. “CCAS checks the profile of the volunteers”, to ensure their seriousness. “Technology cannot replace man”, recalls the mayor, Sébastien Eugène, “very satisfied” with the service provided by his town of 15,000 inhabitants. “This tool was widely used during the Covid, to carry food or medicine. Or sometimes, simply, to chat with singles.»
Connecting “people with time to people with needs” was also enjoyed by her social activity assistant, Alice Dupuis. “It is very much appreciated. It will help the elderly, break their diversity and also make it easier for them to stay at home.»
On the podium of the most common services, Robert Hue quotes everything related to health (along with medical appointments), then purchasing assistance, and finally management techniques. But many other services are provided: “friendship calls”, computer help, reading aloud… “We will also improve teaching”, Alice Dupuis announced. Because Bip Pop isn’t just a service provided by seniors to young volunteers. In this intergenerational solidarity, everything is possible. Robert Hue, who is 79 years old himself, wants “other retirees to join in” like him. As for Léo Guernion, a student at an engineering school in Paris on the week, he said he wanted to “offer weekend school assistance to middle and high school students”.
Won, in 2020, the foundation of François Hollande’s “La France s’engage” (the former head of state came to protect the digital platform in 2021), so Bip Pop shouldn’t stop there. The expansion of the system to the community of the communes of Château-Thierry is thus planned.
* Communal Center for Social Action