How Social Distancing Is Bringing People Closer

Would you know what to do if the paper in the window of this home was not green but red?

The green square of paper in the front window of every house on this city street is significant in communicating with neighbours. As is a red square of paper. To passersby, the coloured square notifies neighbours that, in the case of green, all is good. Red alerts others to the need for help. Find a red square in the window and you will also find a note from the resident asking for assistance with shopping, medication and transportation.

In response to social distancing and growing fears from COVID-19, one UK man delivered green and red paper squares to the other houses on his street. He wanted vulnerable neighbours to display the green paper if they were okay and red if they needed assistance at which point he and others would offer aid.

If there is anything positive to come from this crisis, it’s story after story of people coming together in support of each other - while practicing social distancing - including reducing isolation and recognizing the efforts of those dedicated to combating the virus and keeping communities safe.

In Spain, residents in quarantine participate in group exercise classes on their balcony. In Italy, residents took to their balconies to perform and sing in solidarity. And Israelis have taken to their balconies to applaud medical staff. The videos are inspiring. The videos are moving spectators to tears; tears of joy at a time when much of the news we see is feeding anxiety, causing alarm and considered by some to be scaremongering.

Recently, BBC News ran a story about the group of people behind #CareMongering, a national movement to spread kindness and help others, particularly those most vulnerable to COVID-19. The media outlet wasn’t talking about Britons. The concept of #CareMongering, an idea that is just days old, originated in Toronto. “In Canada, a country whose inhabitants are stereotyped in the media as kind to a fault, helping others has become an organized movement,” reports the BBC.

Canadians are dealing with the pandemic

in the most Canadian way possible;

helping each other.

Across Canada, there are dozens of #CareMongering Facebook groups and tens-of-thousands of members. People are joining to help and be helped.

#CareMongering posts on Facebook are from one of two groups, #iso and #offer, “in search of” help and “offering” help, respectively. When one group member posts a need, like #iso someone to pick up groceries, another member steps up with an #offer of assistance.

In a time of social distancing, people are coming together in support of each other. Even those not tied to the social media trend. Tonight, families and friends hundreds and thousands of kilometres apart will come together with the use of Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom, all video conferencing tools.

Zoom, one of the world's fastest growing and most popular video conferencing tools for business, has made their service free during this crisis. It means almost endless one-on-one communication and group chats of 3 to 100 people for up to 40 minutes at a time.

In an interview with BBC News, one of the founders of #CareMongering says, “It’s easy to feel alone and powerless. Being able to offer people emotional support, share information, and even swap ideas of how to pass time has been life-changing.”

The Facebook groups highlight the need for some level of reassurance and hope. The virtual community allows people to help each other and, in the process, instil hope for humanity. Concludes one member, it feels “like a hug”.


One small act can make one big difference in a day, in a life.

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