Are you a good neighbour?

The pandemic may have been a fearful time for many but in no small way contributed to the rise of community spirit across the globe. We hear from various surveys that around one in three of us know our neighbours better than before the health crisis struck our shores.

What has been highlighted for many, is how little time we spared for our neighbours and those more vulnerable. And it also showed our need for connections as we checked in on family, friends and formed new relationships with others across our community.

We have a primal need to be with others and we’ve since found creative ways to connect and help each other. You could say our empathy button was supercharged.

Supporting our neighbours

We love hearing how locals across our community support their neighbours. From simple offers of help dropped into neighbours’ letterboxes to kindness campaigns organised by able local residents, we’ve seen an upswing in acts of kindness.

In Melbourne, two sisters gave away home-grown seedlings to passers-by, most of whom returned the favour with homemade bread, potting mix and other useful gifts.

In New Zealand, The Big Kindness Count recorded 16,000 acts of kindness – ranging from local businesses helping NGOs to locals providing food boxes or shopping and delivering groceries to those in need. There were even anonymous artists creating footpath adventures for local children – within the first few days of the Big Kindness launch.

Supporting local businesses

What’s been overwhelming is our renewed focus toward supporting local businesses, over and above buying from national conglomerates.

Many of us are happy enough to scoot all over town in search of a bargain or do our shopping online or when we travel overseas. Today, however, we think twice and have a renewed love for supporting the smaller businesses (often owned by local residents) such as nearby cafés, restaurants and boutique shops.

Using technology and social media to connect

When we’re unable to visit and hug those closest to us, we’ve learnt to find a sense of security and belonging in other ways.

For the more tech-literate, there’s Zoom or Microsoft Teams or other online video call options. However, for many more, we got a sense of connection and belonging through memberships of online groups where we’ve found others with mutual interests and shared hobbies.

Many suburb-based Facebook groups have grown in popularity and activity in recent months, helping to spread kindness across our local communities. The commonality of our mobile phones and access to the internet makes disseminating information easy – such as lost and found pets, new cafes as they pop up, recommendations for services such as a mobile hairdresser or chiropractor.

Can we keep up the kindness?

Regaining the community spirit of days gone by, we now have renewed enthusiasm and ‘permission’ to get involved in our communities and reach out to each other more often.

We hope that as life speeds up again that we manage to retain these deeper and more meaningful connections – especially with our elderly neighbours and the more vulnerable in our communities.

If you are part of a community group and would like to share details of it, please include the name and link in our social media post for this article. We’d love to know more about what you’re doing to be a good neighbour.