As coronavirus has made us realise the importance of community and helping one another, Julia Simon Moraly, a 37-year-old living in Monaco, took on the challenge of uniting the Principality to cope with loneliness, lockdown and isolation. Her Facebook group is now followed by over 5,000 locals, all offering help and advice!

Julia Simon Moraly never used to be particularly active on Facebook, but when news spread about a mysterious virus last March and safety measures began to escalate, she soon found herself in front of her laptop. As coronavirus swept through the Principality, this mother of one recalls the “worrying situation” and “suddenly feeling isolated.” Within weeks of the crisis breaking out, she launched a Facebook page, determined to fight the loneliness and do something to bring the community together.

A wealth of practical information

What originally began as a small group between friends, soon grew into something much greater. Many new members joined, each worried about their neighbours and anxious to provide help and support. “A snowball effect” is how Julia Simon Moraly describes the group, which now has over 5,000 members. “I never expected the community to be so passionate and get so involved!” Every day, there are new posts offering practical advice and sharing the latest official information and guidance.

Monitoring, content sharing and moderation: “time-consuming but necessary activities”, reminds Julia Simon Moraly who admits that she easily spends nearly four hours a day maintaining the group! Recently, there have been a few “inappropriate comments” on the page, resulting in the group’s creator having to block certain members in order to keep it a safe, respectful space.

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In my family, women are always on the go

A kind heart that never stops beating

A Parisian with a warm heart, Julie Simon Moraly moved to Monaco in 2007. Growing up she was raised to be a problem-solver, someone with a great deal of empathy, who describes how “in [her] family women are always on the go, perceptive to problems and do all they can to fix them.” In times of difficulty, this interior designer has always taken great strength and inspiration from her generous grandmother.

For a woman who lives life at “100 miles an hour”, when the pandemic slowed down her interior design projects, she refused to sit back and do nothing. Determined to make the most of the uncertain times, she put her kind nature to good use. “I need to make myself useful: I’ll go crazy if I’m not busy .”

This group has been a great reminder that we can all look out for each other and you don’t have to go far to help those in need

Connecting the community online

By creating a virtual Monégasque community, Julia Simon Moraly is helping people through isolation, as well as helping new relationships blossom in the Principality. People living in Monaco have had the chance to make friends with people they otherwise would never have met, had it not been for this group. “Although the Principality is often compared to a village, Monaco is made up of different social circles, which don’t always overlap.” She went on to explain how “this group has been a great reminder that we can all look out for each other and you don’t have to go far to help those in need.”

“Whilst in lockdown, several volunteers from the group helped a woman in her 80s do her shopping, as well as repair someone else’s broken blind.” One evening, Julia Simon Moraly received a rather surprising request for help: a woman living in Monaco desperately needed to get to the Timone hospital in Marseille to receive chemotherapy the next morning. “I still get goosebumps,” reveals Julia Simon Moraly, who at the time was scared she wouldn’t be able to find a solution. “Within an hour, the Monaco’s taxi drivers, who were following my Facebook group, kindly arranged to take the lady there and back for free.”

Hopes for a post-Covid meet-up

Monaco may no longer be in lockdown, but Julia Simon Moraly’s Facebook group remains active. Job adverts, advice, recommendations and lost items are just some of the posts that are made these days as the group continues to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of the community. Since her group has done so well and lasted so long, the founder has begun imagining a post-Covid world, where hopefully the 5,000 strong community could come together in person: “maybe we could meet for drinks!”

Visit her Facebook group “Aide et solidarité entre les résidents de Monaco”