The joy of bringing people together
Bullcreek, WA local Monika, says she was keen to build community unity and her neighbourhood connections when she came across Neighbourhood Connect as a tool to support her ideas. With invitations in hand Monika doorknocked the neigbourhood, inviting people to her open house and was delighted with the response. A total of 39 attended the event including her family, 24 neighbours as well as friends and colleagues
Monika says the highlights were: the number of neighbours attending, the joyful atmosphere that was felt by all attending, the expressions of gratitude from the neighbours and their enthusiasm to further develop community on the street. The friendly interaction of neighbours with each other and even the disappointment of those unable to attend this time but wanting to attend an event in the future, gives optimism for lots of future postive neighbourly connections in Bullcreek!
The snowball effect of connection
Scott from Nedlands WA, has been bringing people together since 2017 and connections are organically building as a result. Scott says of his motivation…”In a time when people are more connected (online) than ever before more and more people are suffering from loneliness and isolation, getting neighbours together is a way of forming bonds and breaking the isolation.
Since the first Christmas party in 2017 the group has had plenty of follow up parties and events. A number of connections have been made and now thanks to the parties many families in the area have started a kids play-group. There have been many friendships formed from the parties and this will only improve over time. For each party Scott letterbox drops the six streets in the area (around 550 houses) and puts up signs at the main entrances to encourage new people to come. On the flyers he always asks people to invite their friends/family and neighbours. On the night he puts out a table, chairs, esky, lights, music, sign in sheet, name-tags and brings along some chalk and games for the kids. For the Christmas party this year, he is considering a treasure hunt.
Scott’s experience shows that once you take the first step, wonderful new connections can unfold!
An unlikely club building community connections
Your community may be your best ally against loneliness
You would be forgiven for thinking the Vintage Car Club was all about shiny old vehicles and passionate tinkerers… but this club is not what you think.
The Vintage Car Club is a neighbour group in McCrae, on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, named after their local streets, all sharing vintage car names. You’re more likely to see these group members chatting over the fence or sharing a glass of wine than polishing their hubcaps, and that’s just the way they like it.
What turned this area into a blossoming community was 60 initial letterbox invites, leading to 20 attendees at that first meeting. In just over two years, these former strangers, along with new additions, have built ties that enrich their lives on a daily basis.
People who live alone have found a strong system of support against their loneliness and more often than not, there is someone to join you on a walk, go to water aerobics with or have a laugh with on the other side of your fence. Jenny McCarthy, the local Connector who got the group started and now gathers people monthly for social occasions, shared some of the positive outcomes from her group.
“We have been going for just on two years now and are still attracting over 20 people to each event. As we are all retired people, we don’t get involved in neighbourhood clean-ups or community projects, however we are very active as a group on a social level. We keep it simple by going out to cafes or restaurants or having bbq’s at each other’s homes. As we age it is very important to maintain social interaction with our neighbours. We all feel confident in calling on each other for help with things like house-minding, collecting mail or mowing front lawns if we go away. We also help with getting to medical appointments, preparing meals or shopping if incapacitated.
The formation of our neighbourhood group has created a wonderful sense of community and friendship amongst us all. We all feel safer in our locality and confident that our neighbours would come to our aid in an emergency situation.”
Bumping into people, and liking it…
Going on three years now, the St Kilda West Neighbourhood Connect Group has cultivated a community that gives its members a sense of home and belonging, not just a coincidental similarity of addresses. Catch-ups, walks, movies, and just “giving each other a hand” are all part of it, says Clare, who is grateful for the lovely people and new friends she has met as a result of this neighbour group.
Indeed, this Melbourne-based suburban community has been a boon for people in different situations. Sara recalls, “When we were younger, there were easy ways to meet people. Now it’s harder. We’re new here and were so happy to get the invitation to meet our neighbours. It’s great for us.”
There are also those anticipating big milestones. According to Barb, one of the earliest members and a connector in the group, living in a closely-knit neighbourhood has given her a system of support outside work and family. The relationships she has built with her neighbours are of added value to her life, as she prepares for her retirement in a few years. Barb also dispels the notion that neighbourly connections need remain superficial, restricted to how-do-you-dos and asking for favours. She insists that her group brought about a new “depth of knowing people, having more personal conversations.”
While the eye-averting majority that live among strangers might find it puzzling, for the lucky few in connected communities like Barb, knowing more neighbours is a win-win “It’s great bumping into people I know and having a chat.”