Why join a neighbourhood group?
Many things become possible when there are rich connections amongst neighbours. Within walking distance, you might find people who share your interests – some may become friends and kids may find new playmates. You might find people to give you a hand when you need it and people who would like to do things with you to improve your neighbourhood. You are likely to find satisfying ways of contributing to others and gain a sense that you really belong in this place.
The more people get involved, the more it feels like a community and not an area full of strangers.Depending on what your group decides to do together, you might find that you can live a more social, environmentally sustainable, healthier, safer and happier life.
Some people may not have been in the neighbourhood long or may not stay for long. It doesn’t matter – we don’t know the future but we can make the most of the present.
What would our group do?
The only limit is your imagination, providing that everyone is safe and respected:
Social activities might be organised so neighbours can get to know one another better: BBQS pot luck dinners, a street party, gathering in the park;
There are activities one does alone that can be more enjoyable when done with others: walking, jogging,gardening, meals, kids playing, walking dogs;
Sharing and helping become possible: sharing recipes, tools, skills; lending a hand to help a neighbour change a light globe, shift furniture, whatever’s needed;
Finding ways to improve your neighbourhood or the local environment: living sustain ably, creating an attractive place to gather, clean up days.
In short, any activity that brings people together, that inspires the art of neighbourliness, can be included. See Resources and Inspiration for a wealth of ideas.
How can I start a group?
Anyone who wants to make their neighbourhood more neighbourly can get the ball rolling. Please contact us to express your interest. There is no charge for residents or agencies who wish to participate.
There will need to be one or more residents willing to be Community Connectors. Connectors are those willing to make it all happen – inviting others, making them welcome,organising. They are leaders who also encourage others to be leaders, as many hands make light work.
There is also a Community Connector Kit to assist you. You can call us to discuss the possibilities.
What is the role of the Community Connector/s?
Community Connectors are those willing to make it all happen – inviting others, making them welcome, organising. Ideally, a team of two or three Connectors working together is best.
As a Community Connector of a neighbourhood group, your role is, first, to invite your neighbours to a simple, social gathering. We have a sample invitation for you. At the first gathering, you’ll gauge the interest of your neighbours in forming a group for ongoing connection and discuss the type of activities you’d like to do together.
In a nutshell, the role of the Community Connector is to inspire engagement. It’s a question of listening to people, drawing out their strengths, and helping to translate ideas into action. You will be planting seeds and bringing up possibilities for the group and encouraging others to share their ideas.
As the group matures, you might also help to motivate the group,encourage others to take ownership of the group or particular activities, and keep people focused on the goals and actions that have been committed to. Ideally,you ensure that good records are kept of the group’s progress and experience,that your group reflects on progress from time to time, solves any problems,plans ahead and participates in evaluation.
How do members of a group stay in touch?
Every group is different and will decide which way to communicate with each other. Currently, neighbourhood groups are using email, text, WhatsApp,and Facebook (closed group).
Some neighbours may want to be involved but not be able to use a computer. Perhaps someone can agree to phone them or drop in or drop a note in their letterbox with anything important, such as when the next gathering is.
What about safety?
While the vast majority of the neighbours you will meet will be great people, there is no guarantee that you will feel comfortable with everyone. So while it’s great to extend the invitation to join the group to everyone, you must make your own decision and take full responsibility for who you decide to trust. If your instinct tells you to be wary of someone, be wary of them. You may prefer to have your initial gathering in a public place.
If anyone acts in a disrespectful or dangerous way, the Community Connectors should be told so the implications for the group can be considered.Serious matters should be reported to the authorities. Community Connectors and the organisation take no responsibility for the actions of people in your neighbourhood.
What about privacy?
There is a trade-off between community and privacy. We believe the gains are worth it. Sharing your email address and phone number allows contact with your neighbours.
Neighbourhood Connect only uses your contact information to communicate with you about community matters and does not share your information with other organisations.
What support is available?
We aim to make it easy for people to form and run neighbourhood groups.
- Ideas for connecting with your neighbours
- Downloadable kits with more information relevant to your group
- Invitation templates
- Phone and email support from the Project Team
- Links to a Network of neighbourhood groups to learn from each other