Everybody needs good neighbours, so the famous theme tune goes.
But did you know that communities where people know each other are reported to have better mental health, are safer for children and are more resilient when disasters strike?
One of the best things about living in Lake Macquarie, Newcastle or Maitland is being part of a tightly knit, supportive community. Neighbour Day is a chance to celebrate those important neighbourhood connections, and perhaps even forge some new ones.
What is Neighbour Day?
Celebrated in communities across Australia, Neighbour Day is an annual event designed to encourage people to connect with their neighbours. Relationships Australia, the home of Neighbour Day, hopes the event will raise awareness of the importance of social connection and neighbourly actions.
People living in highly connected neighbourhoods tend to enjoy higher levels of physical and mental health and, of course, the opposite is also true. Research shows that lonely people are more likely to report symptoms of depression, are admitted to hospital more frequently, have higher blood pressure and are at a greater risk of heart attack than others. That’s one of the reasons why Neighbour Day aims to increase positive and ongoing social connections between people and communities, to help tackle loneliness across Australia.
Every day is neighbour day
This year Neighbour Day falls on Sunday 28 March, and the theme is ‘every day is neighbour day’, building on the growing movement of people acting in a neighbourly way every day of the year.
Over the past year Australians have faced, and continue to face, bushfires, drought, floods, the COVID-19 pandemic and, for many, loneliness and isolation. These challenging times highlight like never before just how important it is to look out for our neighbours and build strong communities.
Although Neighbour Day is a once-a-year event, the hope is that people will make meaningful connections with one another that last beyond the day itself.
How to get involved
Your Neighbour Day can be as big or as small as you like. You could arrange to have a cuppa with a few people, organise a barbecue for your block or host a picnic in the park. A communal or public area like a front lawn or car park is an ideal place to meet up, as it will encourage more people to join in.
Of course, we’re still living with COVID-19 and health advice is changing all the time. It’s important to make sure your Neighbour Day activities are COVID safe. If gatherings are a no-go, you could drop off Neighbour Day calling cards or connection cards, or another message of support, to your neighbours.
Local group The Lake Macquarie Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance has been recognised as ‘A Very Neighbourly Organisation’ by Neighbour Day organisers. If you like the sound of getting involved in a local project, meeting your neighbours and learning new skills, the Alliance welcomes volunteers year-round.
In celebration of Neighbour Day, online neighbourhood hub Nextdoor are running their annual Neighbour Awards, recognising ordinary people who go above and beyond for their community. Winners receive $100 gift cards, with the Grand Prize winner collecting a $500 gift card to spend in their community. Entries close on 15 March, so if you have a neighbour who makes your community a better place, nominate them today.
Most of all – make a new connection with a neighbour on Sunday 28th. You never know where it might lead.