How to build a community with your neighbours
Knowing your neighbours can make you feel safer and can make your life that little more enjoyable. If you’re new to an area or don’t know how to make local friends, try this advice.
Start a Facebook group
Many online groups already exist for local communities, dedicated to swapping and selling items, announcing flat shares, or simply for exploring the local area. Why not set one up simply to get to know your neighbours better?
Starting a Facebook group is very easy. Along the left-hand side of your Facebook newsfeed, you’ll find a list including your profile and favourites, underneath you’ll find the term ‘Groups’. Simply click ‘create’ then it’s all about defining your terms.
You might want to keep it closed, so it’s solely for your street or apartment block. Name it accordingly, ‘Connaught Avenue’ for example. Then print some flyers or knock on a few doors and ask your neighbours to join.
You can then post privately between your neighbours, discuss issues, announce any gatherings (book clubs, pampering parties, or even bigger gatherings), or arrange something even more ambitious.
Read more: How to make new friends if you're over 50
You may feel a little stumped by this one, but there are many ways to volunteer in your local community. Charities are the most obvious place to start.
Of course, you can ask some larger charities such as Age UK or The Samaritans, these are worthy causes always looking for help in regions across the UK. But perhaps there’s something a bit closer to home.
Are there any charities set up addressing a local issue, concern or historical event? Perhaps there’s a family nearby that have started their own charity to help a disadvantaged loved one. A simple Google search can help you discover local charities and volunteer opportunities. It's a great way to meet like-minded neighbours and make a difference to your community.
Read more: How to become a volunteer
Plan a jumble trail
Everyone has that cupboard of doom, overflowing with things you’ve been meaning to get rid of, sell on eBay or give to a charity shop. While they’re all great ways of getting rid of pre-loved items, it could be much more fun to organise a jumble trail in your local community.
Set up a Facebook event to announce the trail and have your neighbours sign up. Get everyone set up down the street, in garages, in living rooms or front gardens and announce where they’ll be and at what time. Then let the locals wonder from home to home. You may even make a tidy profit.
It may seem difficult to set up a group or organise events, so perhaps start small. Everyday acts of kindness can be as simple as saying hello when you see your neighbours in the street or the supermarket. It may be seeing someone struggle with the gardening and offering your expertise (and maybe that impressive lawnmower you have), or even taking in that rather large parcel when no one’s home.
Kindness and a friendly face is the start to potentially long-lasting friendships. Plus, for every positive deed done, you can expect to see it spread by three more people, according to a Harvard study.
Start an exercise group
There are a rare few of us that are motivated to start exercising, and even fewer that enjoy going it alone. Starting a neighbourhood exercise group may be just the ticket.
Plan big walks of your area and ask neighbours to come along. You could sign up together to attempt a marathon… or half marathon (that way you’re doing your bit for charity too).
Perhaps there’s a community centre nearby where you can arrange a Zumba, yoga, or aerobics class. There may be a small fee on the spaces and for the teacher, but if everyone chips in it won’t be too pricey.
Read more: How to exercise at home
Plan a street party
This may be the best way to have a great time with your neighbours. Choose an event, it could be New Year’s, Summer Equinox, Easter, Diwali, oh heck you can even run one just for the sake of a party.
Agree on your day, assign some tasks, and celebrate your hard work with a good old knees-up. You may have to seek permission from the local council, especially if you want to shut down the road.
These sorts of parties are typically suited for cul-de-sacs. If you live on a main road or in flats, seek out a garden, arrange a picnic in a park, or maybe someone will be willing to host in their home—perhaps organise a cleaning committee the next day.
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