If there is to be a silver lining to the Covid-19 crisis, it is the return of connected communities, and the Kiwi way of helping one another.
Day 1 of lockdown, and New Zealand’s largest community connection platform, Neighbourly, saw an increase in traffic of more than 175 percent compared to the previous week. Also during that time, members have created 110 Covid-19 Response groups on Neighbourly, and are connecting with thousands of people in their community.
While friends and family reached out to loved ones around the world, with photo challenges and funny memes, Neighbourly has become a trusted way to connect literally closer to home for almost 820,000 New Zealanders. Almost 8,500 people have joined the platform this month alone.
“I might get lots of messages and funny videos and requests from people in isolation anywhere around the globe, but I can’t make that same connection with my neighbours that I’m not friends with on social media,” Jake Shand, Head of Neighbourly, explains.
“I can’t chat over the fence like I would have, that is why we are seeing a surge on Neighbourly. It allows you to check on people living around you – or to reach out to someone near you if you need help.
“You know that they are from around here, and they are on the platform for the right reason – not just the memes and the laughs and games. They are not here for that stuff, or for the attention.”
Shand cites a case pre-lockdown, of an elderly woman from Linwood in Christchurch who had lost the ability to get her three community meals a week. She reached out via Neighbourly and she immediately had offers of meals and assistance from people close by.
A Palmerston North man offered his imported shipment of hand sanitiser free to locals, and a Wellington woman offered her bicycle free, when a nurse had hers stolen from Hutt Hospital. A Neighbourly member found the bike abandoned and was able to reunite it with its owner.
A Glen Innes household thanked its neighbours for using the message board to reassure members that its large family was a safe whanau bubble when members were posting about a lot of cars outside their home. Another resident admitted stockpiling toilet paper and asked if anyone needed an emergency supply.
“It is genuine needs over wants, offering help and assistance over opinion,” Shand says. “It is heart-warming to see what people do for their community on there.”