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Know Your Neighbour, Canberra

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by Belladonna (subscribe)
Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published July 13th 2020
How to connect with and support your neighbours

"Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours..."

These are the opening words of the theme song from the iconic, long-running Australian television soap, Neighbours.
And during this time of Coronavirus, these words are more important than ever.

Know your neighbour Canberra

The COVID-19 pandemic is having profound impacts on us all. We are all in this together, but the crisis is affecting us all differently. While many in the community have begun to increase social contact with the easing of restrictions, there are also many people who will continue to isolate to protect their health. So, while there may be a sense that things are returning to "normal", this is not the case for many of our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues.

Australia's loneliness crisis
Even before Coronavirus, Australia was already in the midst of another crisis: a loneliness crisis, with many Australians experiencing a deficit of social connection.
Know your neighbour Canberra

According to a comprehensive report published in 2018 by the Australian Psychological Society and Swinburne University, one in four Australians are lonely, with one in four also experiencing high levels of social interaction anxiety. What's more, three-quarters of Australians (75%) never or seldom have a neighbour available to talk to. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is making our loneliness crisis worse.

Be a good neighbour
That's why it's now more important than ever to not only have good neighbours, but to BE a good neighbour. By keeping an eye out, checking in and respecting the choices of our friends and neighbours who are self-isolating, we can make sure everyone is part of building and maintaining the connections in our communities.

Why knowing your neighbours is important
By knowing the people who live around you, you will have and experience:
Social connection, less feelings of loneliness and a helping hand if you need it;
Increased quality of life, healthier and happier neighbourhoods;
Feeling safe, engaged and an overall sense of belonging;
A readiness to co-operate, mutual respect and common aspirations;
Increased security with neighbours looking out for each other's homes, including if they go away on holiday; and
Localised assistance during a natural disaster and/or health crisis like COVID-19.
Know your neighbour Canberra
Source: Source:

How you can know your neighbour
The ACT Government has produced a very handy 'Know Your Neighbour' card. It's a great way for you to take the first step in reaching out and breaking the ice with your neighbours. You can print and fill in the card or you can write your own message and drop it in your neighbour's letterbox. This one simple gesture is a great way of letting someone know that they have support if they need it.
You can download the cardhere.
Know your neighbour Canberra

Neighbour Day
Did you know that there is a special day held in March every year in Australia that celebrates community and encourages people to connect with their neighbours? It's called Neighbour Day, and its principal aim is to build better relationships with the people who live around us, especially the elderly and vulnerable. Social connection also makes us feel better as it helps prevent loneliness, isolation and depression.

During this uncertain and challenging time, make every day a Neighbour Day by reaching out to your neighbours in the following ways:
Take the time to learn about your neighbour's interests or cultures. Your genuine interest might help create connections.
Seek out a community group that suits your interests a Men's shed, a knitting or sewing group, a running or riding club or start your own!
Volunteering is a great way to meet people. If you possess a skill, see how you could utilise it in your local community.
The gift of flowers, or a cutting from a plant, or extra produce from your garden, are low-cost ways to start a friendly conversation with your neighbour.
Schedule time in your calendar for checking in with family, friends and neighbours at least once a week. Try and stick to this commitment, as you would with anything else.
Try using social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram or Meetup) to join a community group to meet people near you.
Whether on the bus of a morning or in line for a coffee, always offer a smile or ask how someone's day is going.
Check in on your elderly neighbours, especially those who live alone.
Invite your neighbour for a walk and get them to share what they like about your neighbourhood.
If your kids go to the local school, get involved. Volunteer your time or join the school's Parents & Citizens group. It's a terrific way to meet other parents/carers.
Get to know your local shopkeepers they can be a wealth of knowledge on what's happening in your area, the best restaurants, pubs, cafes and even other shops. It's also nice to have a friendly face to talk to when you get your groceries.

For many more ideas on how to connect with your community, check out these other neighbourly tips.

Neighbours who may need additional support
Due to COVID-19, some of us may be isolated from usual support systems, leaving some members of the community more vulnerable. As a neighbour, you may hear or see something that makes you think that something is not right. If you think your neighbour may need additional support, this guide is a very useful resource.
Know your neighbour Canberra

In this time of coronavirus, let us all do our bit to create neighbourhoods where everyone feels connected and supported.

Know your neighbour, Canberra!

"The deepest truth about human beings also happens to be the sweetest and noblest truth about us: we are social beings. We absolutely need each other. We depend utterly on neighbourhoods, communities, families, groups of all kinds to nurture us, to protect us, and even give us a sense of our identity."

Hugh Mackay

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