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Connect Health & Community is encouraging members of our community to participate in this year’s ‘Neighbour Day’ - Australia’s annual celebration of community that encourages people to connect with those who live nearby.
To be held on Sunday, 31 March, the theme for Neighbour Day 2019 is ‘Loneliness - what neighbours can do to create connections’.
Connect Health & Community CEO, Amanda Murphy, said strong social and community connections can make the world of difference to someone experiencing loneliness, with something as simple as a smile able to open new worlds of happiness.
“We tend to think of lonely people as old, or single people living alone. But loneliness is experienced by people across the age and social spectrum, including young people, people living with their families, and even people surrounded by others in the workplace. By simply smiling or saying ‘hello,’ we are sharing hope with someone who is experiencing loneliness,” she said.
Ms Murphy said Connect Health & Community is committed to encouraging connections that support health and wellbeing for people of all ages and applauds ‘Neighbour Day’ as a national celebration aimed at doing just that.
“Neighbours are very important because good relationships with others can, and do, change communities. Social connection makes us feel better as it helps prevent loneliness, isolation and depression. By improving connections we are opening up a world of possibilities in terms of health and wellbeing,” she said.
Ms Murphy said this year, all Australians are encouraged to reach out to the vulnerable and lonely members of their community to create a connection – whether it’s a few friendly words across the back fence, inviting your elderly neighbour in for a cuppa, organising a community get-together, or stopping for a chat when you’re walking the dog.
“Your Neighbour Day action can be as big or small as you’d like. It could be as simple as saying hello to people on your walk, organising a little event on your own or working with a group of neighbours to host an event for your street or area,” she said.
Neighbourhood event ideas include: a BYO everything street gathering, a game of cricket in the local park, a barbeque at the end of the cul-de-sac, a party on the front lawn, afternoon tea in the back paddock, a picnic or an outdoor movie – just to name a few.
Ms Murphy reminded those planning an event at a public location to ensure they have the correct permissions from their local council.
Neighbour Day Ideas:
Make a pledge to yourself to introduce yourself to a new neighbour.
Have a yarn to someone you haven’t spoken to before in your street.
Drop off a kind note to neighbours with a young family, or invite them over for a cuppa.
Remember: You can never have too many friends around you and your connection may make a significant difference to the life of your neighbour.
Everything you need to help facilitate your Neighbour Day event is available on the neighbourday.org website.
How Neighbour Day all began
Neighbour Day was founded in Melbourne, Australia in March 2003 by Andrew Heslop after the remains of an elderly woman were found inside her suburban home. Andrew Heslop is a community activist, social commentator and well known Australian.
Mrs Elsie Brown had been dead for two years – forgotten by her neighbours, her friends and her family. While Andrew did not know Mrs Brown he was shocked by the apparent ease in which the world had left her behind.
Widespread media interest followed and it was this coverage that prompted Andrew to suggest a ‘National Check on Your Neighbour Day’ in a Letter to the Editor of The Melbourne Age in 2003.
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