Barrie Mayor praises community-driven Facebook group Barrie Families Unite, proving helpful in a time of crisis

Grassroots social media page becoming go-to for community connections

Barrie’s mayor took time during a rare Wednesday meeting of councillors to praise an online grassroots effort to help residents.

Mayor Jeff Lehman cited the hard work being done by the people running the Barrie Families Unite Facebook group, pointing out the citizen-run page has over 8,000 members. “This is our incredible residents doing it all themselves,” said Lehman, “I take zero credit for this,” he added during an update to councillors over the video chat app Zoom.

Barrie’s mayor and councillors are meeting via digital means these days

“I think what that’s doing is building some infrastructure for connection and community, for people to be not just connected to one another, but to the services,” he added.

“The group of admins that are running that that group are dealing with constant posts, but they’re routing people using the ‘personal message’ function to allow people to exchange the information they need without having to post it online. And it connects people for help. I mean, that’s the incredible thing about the technology,”

“I’m really hoping that the kind of coming together we’ve seen in the community out of the crisis response already leaves us with a permanent legacy of supporting one another” Lehman continued, “It builds connections and infrastructure that can last beyond this, and I’m sure that Facebook group is not going to go away when social distancing is over,” Lehman concluded.

Barrie Families Unite was one of the early groups that cropped up on Facebook, offering help with everything from keeping kids busy at home, to aiding the elderly in doing some much-needed shopping. Five people have stepped up to be administrators of the page, while 15 others are moderators helping to keep track of the comments coming in. The rules, as posted on the page, heavily enforce a respectful environment filled with information from trusted sources.