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solidarity in the face of confinement is organized on the Internet

Several Facebook groups linked to the coronavirus.

In Laval, he is an elderly, isolated and sick person who can no longer take care of his cat; in less than three hours, she found a volunteer to take him home. In Maisons-Laffitte (Yvelines), this is a surfer who has not particularly stocked but who offers to donate “Two rolls of toilet paper and soap” who needs it. In Riquewihr (Haut-Rhin), a user with a printer and a ream of paper offers to print out travel documents. A little further down the page, a parent who has just bought a printer requests a helping hand over the phone to successfully configure it and allow their children to do their homework.

Since the start of total containment in France to fight against the spread of the coronavirus, proposals and requests for help have multiplied on social networks, and in particular in Facebook “groups”. Some were created specifically to centralize the needs related to confinement: groups of the “coronavirus solidarity” type have appeared in many cities in France. They have sometimes been created by local media, such as West France, which launched such groups for the cities of Rennes, Saint-Malo, Redon, Vitré and Fougères.

But it is also in the classic local groups, devoted to a municipality or a district, that flourish the offers of assistance with the races or childcare, like the requests to know if such or such a store is open. The questions are multiple, and range from administrative (“How do you fill out the travel certificate when you go to throw your cardboard and glass waste? “) to the very concrete (“Anyone know where I can get a few bags of litter for my cats?” We thought of a lot of things except that “). Almost no question is left unanswered.

Proposal for a garden loan in a Ile-de-France group, March 18.
Proposal for a garden loan in a Ile-de-France group, March 18.

Practical information and specific support for caregivers

Spontaneous self-help offers are also increasing on neighboring social networks, such as NextDoor and Mesvoisins, which have recorded exceptional peaks in attendance since the schools were closed. In one week, the posts published were multiplied by four and the comments by eight on NextDoor, and the publications increased by 70% on Mesvoisins in the same period, according to figures communicated to the World by the two social networks, which have put in place tools to help residents coordinate goodwill.

At the local level, Facebook groups are also very useful for sharing information, especially all practical information. On the particular group in Ajaccio, between a link to online yoga classes and the details of the opening hours of certain stores, we especially welcome the announcement by Air Corsica maintaining a daily connection to the mainland for people who need to travel for medical reasons.

The overwhelming majority of groups have strict moderation. Doubtful advice, unverified rumors and conspiracy theories are rare – unlike the phenomena that have been seen on WhatsApp in recent days. Calls for good citizenship are permanent, even if the rules of distancing, such as not putting children in contact with vulnerable people, do not always seem to be integrated by everyone.

Translated versions in Turkish, English, Arabic of the travel certificate circulate in groups in large cities, alongside tutorials to make “homemade” masks, cooking recipes or links to videos or games for keep the kids busy. Apartments left vacant because their occupant is confined elsewhere are offered to accommodate free of charge people who have no other options.

Mutual aid group in Alsace, March 18.
Mutual aid group in Alsace, March 18.

Leetchi kitty

Among the many offers of help, many are specifically aimed at caregivers and their families, such as these open pots in scattered order on Leetchi for hospitals. Many childcare or shopping offers also state that caregivers will have priority.

The Nurses Brigade Facebook page, dedicated to nurses and which has more than 350,000 subscribers, regularly lists small and large gestures of solidarity with health personnel. In Haguenau (Bas-Rhin), it is a restaurant which offers pizza to the staff of the hospital; in Rodez, a pastry shop that offers its desserts.

Testimonies in the group
Testimonies in the group “brigade des nurses”, March 18.

Elsewhere, these are little words of encouragement found on a nurse's car, an SMS offering help with babysitting. But on Tuesday, many photos published by caregivers across the country, masks on their faces, reminded above all that the easiest way to help them is to stay at home.

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