By Heather Blissett
I had moved into a new area from a close knit community where everyone knew everyone. For the safety of my children and myself I wanted to get to know the neighbours in my new neighbourhood. I was initially hesitant. A neighbour helped me send out invites to the whole grove for a Neighbours Day gathering. We got about 10 families along to our first gathering.
From that first step, I plucked up the courage to invite them into my home for a neighbourhood watch meeting. We have since celebrated Neighbours Day Aotearoa again by having neighbourhood gatherings.
Due to study and work commitments, I didn’t get around to organising a get together last year. A new neighbour jokingly said “I have a bone to pick with you. I heard that the grove has a bbq every year and I waited and waited but one never came”. It turned out they had all been looking forward to it but were relying on me to let them know the date. I have since learned that communication and delegation is the key. The neighbours look forward to it and I know I don’t have the resources to do it alone so am happy to ask for help.
The emotional and physical benefits to Neighbours Day are amazing! I’ve had my lawns mowed, received lemons, been invited to a neighbourhood child’s birthday, and had neighbours wave out when I pass. I even got my last job because of one of the neighbours. When fixing my car it was neighbours who noticed and popped over to help.
Neighbourliness does not mean that you have to visit each other every day or week for the next year, but it does mean I have a whole new support network that I can be a part of all year round.