The social distancing needed to control the spread of this virus is taking a toll on our mental health. To counter loneliness and isolation, we need new and easy ways to stay in touch with each other.


Hand2Hold is an online service that connects people within existing circles of friends or colleagues who would otherwise have seen each other in person. It encourages regular and serendipitous connections by sending reminders to people’s phones using SMS messages.


Suppose you have a social circle—a work team, a reading group, a religious community—that is now unable to meet in person. You set up a circle with HandToHold, entering people’s names and phone numbers (with their permission). Each member of the circle will get a welcome message, and then a daily message asking how they’re doing in one word. Each member will then get another message with the name and number of one other member, encouraging them to contact them. Members can opt out at any time, or skip if they’d like a day without connecting.


How do you choose who contacts me?

It will be random and changing daily.

Can I choose to only make calls, or only receive calls?

No. We think that it will help everyone to both give and receive.

How much time and effort will this take?

A few seconds to respond to the text message each day, and two short calls (or longer of course if you prefer).

Will I be asked to contact the same person asked to contact me?

No; each person makes a call and each person gets one.

Can I choose who contacts me?

Not for now. We’re assuming that all the members of a circle will be happy to hear from any other members.

Can I opt out?

Yes, you can opt out at any point.

Who sees my one-word answers?

For now, your word is passed on to the person paired with you that day. We might also let the members of a circle see all the words from that circle.

Who sees my contact details (eg, my phone number)?

Just the person contacting you and the organizer of your circle.

Can I belong to more than one circle?

Yes, the circles run independently.

Is this service free?

There is no charge to users. Running the service is not free, unfortunately, and we’d appreciate contributions of any size.