As Australia's bushfire crisis rages on, the nation is banding together to help those affected by the blazes, but Erin Riley's "Find A Bed" initiative is truly defining what it means to go above and beyond in such a trying time.
As the name suggests, Find A Bed helps fire-affected families find accommodation by connecting them with someone who can provide them with a place to stay. It's completely run by volunteers who identify potential matches and contact both parties to put them in direct contact should it be agreeable on both ends.
"Matches are made based on proximity & type of accommodation needed, including if they can house pets as well," the site's FAQ page reads.
"We are working to connect people and animals affected by the bushfire crisis with places to stay - this includes those who have had to evacuate, those who’ve lost their homes and those who are stuck on the road because of the fires. We are working to place pets and livestock as well as people."
Riley started the initiative on New Year's Eve and has since garnered a team of about 60 volunteers working behind the scenes, she told Gizmodo.
Need a place to stay because of the #AustralianFires? Don't have anywhere to keep your pet? Have a bed to offer? Let us know and we'll do our best to connect you with someone that could use your help, or help you out. #NSWFires #VicFires #SouthCoastFires pic.twitter.com/Ru3PbXJ8wD
— Find A Bed (@findabedAU) January 3, 2020
It's an absolutely mammoth undertaking that's already done a huge amount of good in the very short time it's been running. So far, over 8,100 places have been offered up for people and animals to stay during the crisis and about 160 people have been directly helped by the site, Riley confirmed.
I need to sleep, but before I go: as of today, I think @findabedAU has helped 10 people who lost their homes find accommodation either in their community, or where they want to be. I am so bloody proud of this incredible team who are working so, so hard to help people who need it
— Erin Riley (@erinrileyau) January 8, 2020
If you're keen to help out with a bed or space for someone in need, you can register by simply going to the Find A Bed website and clicking "I have a spare bed" on the home page. If you're matched with someone who needs a bed, you'll be contacted by one of the site's volunteers. If you're looking for a place to stay due to the fires, just click on the "I need a bed" button on the home page to register your details.
The whole thing simply works on the back of Google Forms, which certainly gives you an idea of how hard the volunteers are working to match people in the background.
Find A Bed does not take donations and would rather you donate directly to those in need instead. Here's a handy guide on how you can help out and the best places to donate your money by our pals at PEDESTRIAN.TV.
Organisations have also encouraged cash donations over physical items as the relief centres don't have the resources to sort through physical donations.
Riley and the team will also be starting a new registry through Find A Bed where people can "offer goods or services to fire-affected communities" which will then be matched with requests from those communities. The registry will be available from Thursday afternoon, she told Gizmodo.
Another way to lend a hand is by simply spreading the word. The more people who know about Find A Bed, the more people it can help, so be sure to share it around on social media if you can.
It's incredible to see the community helping out in such amazing and innovative ways in the face of such a terrible disaster.