Australians are turning to social media to lift their spirits, with new coronavirus self-isolation policies leading to an estimated 1 million job losses.
With support groups emerging all over the internet, one of the most popular hubs for hope has revealed itself in the 'Kindness Pandemic' Facebook group, a global community which has amassed over 300,000 members in less than a week. With a focus on inter-generational connection, the group sees users share their own daily stories of kindness from within their respective communities, with Australian founder Dr Catherine Barrett, along with a team of admins, approving upward of 8,000 posts each day.
"We set up #TheKindnessPandemic because so many people need acts of kindness right now and so many others want to hear stories of kindness," the group's description reads.
"Kindness won’t make COVID19 go away, but it will make our lives easier and more rewarding."
The group encourages members to share feel-good stories from their days, with a number of targeted campaigns including 'Random Acts of Kindness in a Supermarket', which came in response to reports of supermarket staff being assaulted amid panic-buying.
Speaking to a number of the group's members, it's clear that Australians are finding comfort in kindness and connection during self-isolation.
"After my last weekly shop I was very down," Brisbane local Meg Hni tells SBS Voices. "The empty shelves were a bit depressing."
She added: "I’m trying to stay away from negative things and there’s so much positivity here you can’t help but feel a bit better. Occasionally some posts will make me cry. I’d rather be crying over people’s kindness than the current state of the world.
Fellow Brisbane local Sarah-Joy Cooney explains that the stories of kindness, which are being shared all across social media on the #KindnessPandemic hashtag, are helping her adjust to a number of difficult changes.
"They [the stories] cheer me up when I'm down, they make me laugh when I want to cry and they make me want to cry happy tears reading some of the amazing and selfless things people have done," Cooney, whose workplace has recently closed, tells SBS Voices.
"I have 2 autoimmune diseases and am very immunocompromised from my medications," another Kindness Pandemic Facebook group member, Sabina Obsermeder, says.
"I am self isolating and this was a great way to keep in contact with friends and other like minded people in a group that is focusing on kindness, compassion and hope rather than negativity and fear mongering."
Common acts of kindness shared on the page include people leaving a supply of toilet paper on their walkway with a sign inviting people to take what they need, and people leaving 'thank you' notes for front-line workers, including chemists and teachers.
But people are also sharing stories of strangers helping them.
"My neighbour overheard me crying outside to my mum today because I’m struggling right now," Melbourne local Kat Ashleigh wrote in a post.
"I’ve been let off from my main job, have to move house in less than two weeks, and I genuinely had a moment of feeling helpless and sorry for myself.
"He knocked on my door tonight and apologised for listening in to my conversation, and offered me two bags full of food ( noodles, rice, pasta, canned items, deodorant, toilet paper, tampons) and continued to tell me his story of how he grew up in a country that was constantly in war and how he had the choice of either feeding himself or feeding his family."
"I broke down in tears in front of him," Ashleigh continued.
"I couldn’t even comprehend his generosity and kind nature. This is what being an Aussie is all about - helping each other when we can and sticking together.