The Nanaimo Beacon’s Beacon Buddies program, meant to find volunteers to help with errands for self-isolating neighbours, signed up nearly 350 people on its first day Sunday. (Nanaimo Beacon image)

The Nanaimo Beacon’s Beacon Buddies program, meant to find volunteers to help with errands for self-isolating neighbours, signed up nearly 350 people on its first day Sunday. (Nanaimo Beacon image)

Nanaimo satire website connects community during COVID-19 pandemic

Nanaimo Beacon signs up more than 600 volunteers to help those who are self-isolating

The novel coronavirus is no joke.

Those behind the Nanaimo Beacon, a local satire website, went outside their usual mandate this past weekend to try to build community connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The website launched an initiative called Beacon Buddies, with a goal of connecting volunteers willing to run errands for neighbours who are in self-isolation or quarantine.

“There’s not a lot more behind this other than we just want to help,” the Nanaimo Beacon told the News Bulletin in an online interview. “We figure we’ve got a reasonably sized platform, so let’s do something good with it, instead of our usual mediocre, low-effort satire.”

Less than a day after publicizing the Beacon Buddies program, the site had signed up more than 600 volunteers from Duncan to Campbell River.

The program’s guidelines indicate that the self-isolating individuals should pre-pay for things like groceries and prescriptions, and suggests that volunteers should refuse to pick up “hoarding levels of supplies like toilet paper, bleach, sanitized wipes, etc.” The Beacon shared a few common-sense tips for meeting buddies, but said it will leave health-care advice to professionals.

The Beacon Buddies program is in line with B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie’s call last week for neighbours to help neighbours and try to ensure a support system for elderly British Columbians who may need extra help during the pandemic.

The Beacon usually sticks to satire; for example, last week it published a piece advising that Nanaimo’s annual Lick the Mayor event was being cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

“Once this crisis has passed, we hope to just go back to writing [crappy] jokes about the mayor’s muscles,” the Beacon said.

For more information about the Beacon Buddies program, click here.

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editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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