During our recent trip North, we again ran into Bill McMurray who we had met at Bland Bay back in August. Bill is one of the many “solo” travellers that you may encounter on the road here in New Zealand. Although in Bill’s case, he is accompanied by his gorgeous Border Collie, Abbie.
Not long after we last met, when Bill was checking Facebook, he came across a post about someone alone in a remote spot. This was also around the time of that terrible incident in Raglan with the camper shot dead in a botched robbery. Amongst the comments, Bill started a thread wondering if there was some way to safely let others know where you were through Facebook. This thread then led to a separate post around the subject discussing various options.
One of the subjects that gained quite a bit of traction was the idea of a brand new Facebook group. This would allow “singles” or couples to join and share their location in a safe environment. That way if you were worried about being on your own at a place, you might be able to find another movan buddy nearby. That way, with two of you together, you would both feel safer.
With the goal in mind of creating a safe haven, Bill set about starting a new Facebook group, Movan Buddies NZ. This link won’t open the page unless you join the Facebook group, but it will get you to the join up page.
There are a few questions to answer as part of the process. This is to ensure that the people joining the group aren’t ones that “bully” or hassle members on other pages. The idea of this group is to protect the members and create a safe environment where people can seek a buddy. Amongst the questions, the group ask on joining is the names of two other groups that you are already a member of. This enables them to screen potential members before allowing them to join.
This may all sound rather excessive to some reading this blog. You have to remember though that there are many people out there, that are scared and somewhat frightened in a secluded location. These people may not want to ask a complete stranger for help. Usually, they would stay for an hour or so, and if no one else turns up to stay, they just leave.
So how does this group help?
Imagine that you arrive at a beautiful lonely spot and decide that you would love to stay. You are, however, worried about being alone. Simply place a post on this group looking for a buddy, not with your exact location but with the general area. Then if there is another member of the group nearby, they can send a personal message directly to you. It’s then up to you at this point to reply, and if you are happy to tell them where you are so, they can link up with you for the night. You can then remove your post once a buddy has been found.
Obviously, the group needs to reach a critical mass to really be of benefit to all the members. As the more people that join then more chance, there is of someone finding a buddy. Currently, the membership sits around 600 with the hope to lift this to around 2000 by Christmas.
It’s not just singles that they are trying to recruit. The group is also looking for experienced travellers that are happy to help provide support to others. So if you are on the road and are glad to link up with others from time to time, to help others feel safer. Then please register on the group to help others enjoy the motorhome experience.
Sadly a few people with their own agendas slipped through the initial screening process. However, the group have developed some reasonably robust checks on what is being posted to stop online bullying. With these people quickly removed from the group. So by joining you can be assured of a safe environment within which to find a buddy.
Why should I join?
This group is not a matchmaking service; it’s solely about trying to help people find someone to share their night’s destination. It’s also not just for singles there have been times when Sarah and I have arrived at a remote destination and would have felt more comfortable with another motorhome there. I am sure that there will be many others feeling the same.
This group is not about your favourite places, today’s bike ride or what you had for dinner. In fact, these sort of posts will be deleted. It’s all about safety in numbers, and you can be part of this by joining. Either to help others or companionship for help yourself. So you won’t be lonesome tonight.
Finally, I couldn’t resist posting this photo of Bill’s van (The Rainbow Connection) with the rainbow behind him. So if you do see this motorhome go say hello and find out even more about the Movan Buddies group. Just to clarify that the rainbow relates to Bill’s Christian beliefs and is taken from a passage in Genesis.
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