As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread through Australian suburbs, many of our family members and friends are going to find themselves in self-isolation. Most people are lucky enough to have loved ones or mates who can drop food at their doors, ring them for a chat, or take their dogs for a walk. But for some that might not be an option – especially as the virus spreads and more and more people go into lockdown. Social platform Nextdoor has a solution.

Nextdoor was founded in San Francisco in 2008 as a way for people to communicate with their neighbourhood. While the platform, which launched in Australia 12 months ago, is generally used for buying and selling, advertising lost pets, asking for tradie recommendations and offering to split kombucha scoby, lately it’s being used for a very different purpose. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, users are posting offers of help to those who may be stuck indoors, self-isolating, elderly or less mobile and unable to undertake basic errands.

Like Facebook, the platform displays posts from people in your area in a chronological feed. Users can search for posts pertinent to what they’re looking for, or filter by suburb.

Some users have made public offers to grocery shop for those who can’t leave their houses, walk the dogs of those who have been isolated and even deliver toilet paper to elderly or disabled people who can’t find any in supermarkets. One user in Victoria has offered to drive around and find toilet paper to deliver to the elderly or less mobile, while another has proffered a couple of rolls of Who Gives a Crap loo roll to anyone in “an emergency situation”.

Nextdoor is encouraging users to create local coronavirus support groups, where they can share advice about Covid-19, coordinate help for people who can’t leave their houses, and offer social support to those who are at home by themselves. Nextdoor recommends initiating coffee groups over Skype or sending messages to neighbours you know are alone to check how they’re doing. Other social-media platforms, such as Reddit and Facebook, are being used in similar ways by communities to offer help for those who need it.

Sign up to Nextdoor here.