Gold Coast couple’s charity innovation

Gold Coast couple Roxane Foulser-Piggott and Gary Bowman’s new “FreddyMatch” algorithm will partner charities with volunteers.

The Freddy Bear Foundation is officially launching this month and is set to increase meaningful volunteering on the Gold Coast, by linking charities with volunteers.

In 2017, local Tallai residents Roxane Foulser-Piggott and Gary Bowman unexpectedly lost their baby son Freddy at just 16 days old.

After the tragedy of their son’s death, they hoped to give back to the community by volunteering, but found the process challenging.

Dr Foulser-Piggott invented the “FreddyMatch” algorithm, honouring her late son, which links charities with volunteers based on their interests and unique set of skills.

Roxane said she found it difficult to find charity work, which sparked the idea to create the Freddy Bear Foundation website.

“There are a lot of barriers to volunteering,” she said. “I have a maths and analytics background and I just couldn’t really find anything like that.

“The whole purpose of the organisation is to try and increase the participation for volunteering and solve that kind of issue.

“It’s really great to throw your energy into something that means a lot and it’s very healing.”

Dr Foulser-Piggott said the FreddyMatch algorithm works similarly to how Netflix recommends television shows and movies to its users.

“What we do is we get volunteers to put in some basic skills when they register” she said.

“We ask them if they like an opportunity, to actually “like” that opportunity, and those pieces of information are then used to generate recommendations for future opportunities.”

Roxane said she hoped the algorithm would remove barriers for volunteers and help charities who may typically not have the resources to take on board a volunteer.

Dr Gary Bowman said the Gold Coast held a special place in his heart after losing Freddy back in 2017.

“Our family are all in the UK, so when we lost Freddy, the support we had from friends and co-workers and even people that we knew who were just from around the community were so warm and kind,” he said.

“The overall goal [of the Freddy Bear Foundation] is really to help everyone to contribute positively into their community.

“There is nothing to stop FreddyMatch being used around the world.

“I encourage people to get involved.”

FreddyMatch software engineer Fabio Gabriel de Magalhaes said he had been working with Roxane on the project since the very beginning.

“Based on my previous experiences as a user of volunteering platforms, I thought there was still space for a platform that could make volunteering more effective for charities and more convenient for volunteers,” he said.

“I also saw an opportunity for personal growth and learning new technologies.

“I hope our work will empower other people to leverage their skills for doing good as well.”

Charities and volunteers can register their interest at FreddyMatch.org/register.

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