Communities gather together amid coronavirus spread

Helping elderly neighbours at a difficult time (Photo: Blake Mannes)

As the coronavirus epidemic continues, isolated Australians are finding solace in their communities and groups whether it be online or in person.

With Australian communities being encouraged to stay indoors amid the growing rate of coronavirus, Facebook groups and neighbourhood check-ins are becoming the new norm where people are finding support and assistance.

Locals are taking to Facebook to give away spare toilet paper to those in need (supplied)

“Community support is a really important part of wellbeing and resilience in times like these,” said Dr Cobi Calyx, a disaster response and recovery expert from the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW.

“There are many ways we can help our friends, families, neighbours and people we don’t know despite the rules of social distancing. For example, we can leave notes, send texts and care packages and encourage people to engage with each other,” she said.

Hatch Macleay spoke to a number of Australians amid the growing spread of COVID-19 and the overwhelming feeling was one of support.

Samantha Kennedy felt drained seeing the elderly in her rural community go without toilet paper and everyday essentials, so she took to her local Facebook community page to notify residents that she would be giving away rolls of toilet paper to the elderly in need.

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“After an elderly resident knocked on my door yesterday asking for toilet paper, I was left heartbroken,” she said.

“He had run out of it and had no chance of getting any at any of the local supermarkets. My family has built up ample supply over the years, so I knew I had plenty to give and our elderly were in need of supplies.”

Followed by a barrage of likes and comments of support, Samantha delivered rolls of toilet paper to 36 households and support groups hours after she posted on Facebook.

“There were plenty of hugs, laughs, and gratitude. Just because the world has gone crazy, it doesn’t mean we have to!” she said.

A local community page was also Jamie Reeves point of call when all supermarkets in his area had run out of hand sanitiser.

“I had a major surgery coming up and my immune system is incredibly low, I knew I had to follow any medical advice about coronavirus that I could, but I also couldn’t buy the products that I needed to,” he said.

After posting on his community page asking if anyone had spare hand sanitiser, Jamie received 5 offers within 10 minutes as well as people offering advice on how to make your own sanitiser or good places to buy online.

“All I needed was one bottle just to feel safe but in the end, I was turning down offers!” he said.

“The response was overwhelming and it is times like this that you become grateful of the community around you.”

Dr Cobi Calyx says acts of kindness can not only benefit the person subject to the act, but also others who may hear about it or see it.

“We know that seeing other people smile and seeing acts of kindness can help us feel better ourselves,” she said.

“The more people are behaving kindly towards each other, the more likely other people might start doing that themselves.”