Glynis Mullen proposed a simple communication tool to check on neighbours and the community during COVID-19 which has been shared on social media across the country and beyond. Facebook photo/Glynis Mullen

Glynis Mullen proposed a simple communication tool to check on neighbours and the community during COVID-19 which has been shared on social media across the country and beyond. Facebook photo/Glynis Mullen

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

A simple communication system involving three pieces of coloured paper to help those at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic has made its way to British Columbia, thanks to social media.

Glynis Mullen, a Dartmouth, Nova Scotia resident posted on Facebook late last week about an idea she heard about using paper to communicate with neighbours in times of crisis.

“Our neighbour is older and lives alone so I gave her three colour pieces of paper for her window which face our kitchen window. Green is for I’m OK, yellow (is) for need(ing) help with an errand, and red for emergency. I call it isolation communication,” she wrote in the post.

By Tuesday afternoon, Mullen’s post was shared more than half a million times, including Oprah Winfrey’s O, The Oprah Magazine and by news agencies throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

“It is quite something. Normally, my Facebook is very private – the only people (who can see my posts) are friends,” explained Mullen to Black Press.

“I sent the post to an aunt and she posted it in a group and it just took off. I thought it was a good idea, so I made it public, and well, it certainly took off.”

Mullen said during the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are turning to older members in their communities or those at risk to ensure they are keeping safe and their needs are met.

RELATED: Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

She and her neighbour often communicate through her kitchen window and said the tri-colour paper system is a “really good visual comfort that everything is okay. When it’s yellow, I know I should call and we can arrange something.”

Within B.C., Mullen’s post has been shared to both private and various emergency preparedness social media pages. On Vancouver Island, suggestions include using the system within apartment and condo buildings, and others noted the system is already in place within certain trailer parks.

Mullen said she’s received some feedback on how to improve the system but said her goal is to spread the message on her simple system and for more people to use it.

“If everyone did that, and you took a drive down the street to see green paper in the window, then you know it’s okay. My hope is that it is implemented in some way.”



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