Imagine a connected neighbourhood, where everyone knew each other, felt a sense of place and was proud to be part of the community. This year, Neighbours Day Aotearoa is bringing people together and turning streets into neighbourhoods on Neighbours Day this weekend – 28 & 29 March
A vision shared by community organisations Lifewise, The Mental Health Foundation, Inspiring Communities, Public Libraries of NZ and Neighbourhood Support NZ, Neighbours Day Aotearoa encourages neighbours to connect and to celebrate their local communities, changing strangers to neighbours, over a weekend, all over New Zealand.
Neighbours Day is a chance for people to meet their neighbours, and for their streets to become vibrant, connected and healthy communities. It’s about sharing with and celebrating those living nearest to you, and encouraging closer connections, whether your neighbours are near or far!
“Knowing our neighbours makes us more compassionate and aware of each others’ needs,” says Kimberly Cleland, Neighbours Day Aotearoa project manager. “We all have neighbours, but many of us aren’t well connected with our communities. Simple gestures, that bring neighbours together, like smiling and saying hello, can make the world of difference to all our lives.”
Over the weekend, neighbourhood initiated activities will offer a fun, family environment and a chance to get to know neighbours. There will be everything from organised events like long lunches and picnics in the park, to random acts of kindness, to delicious treats shared on Neighbours Day. “For many people living busy lives, Neighbours Day provides a reason to connect with neighbours” says Kimberley. “And they take the opportunity to get creative and make Neighbours Day their own!”
Surprisingly, for such a small nation, Sovereign Wellbeing research has shown that only 30% of Kiwis feel connected with their communities. Maintaining a good relationship with neighbours is key to building stronger, healthier and more resilient communities, and facilitating the wellbeing of individuals within them.
“Neighbours are the next ring out after family, and knowing they will look out for you in times of need is important,” says Lifewise’s General Manager Moira Lawler. “Knowing they are there for you increases your sense of security and wellbeing. It’s an important factor for me in choosing where to live – is it somewhere I can be part of a community?”
Business are getting behind the initiative with AMI and The Warehouse supporting Neighbours Day and offering prizes to their customers organising activities over the weekend of the 28-29 March. Neighbours Day is also working with new neighbourhood connection site Neighbourly to help promote face-to-face connections. Stephen Tindall, New Zealander of the Year 2015, says that “good neighbours make for more connected communities and safer, happier neighbourhoods. Everyone can be a good neighbour!”.
Neighbours from all over New Zealand are organising a huge variety of fun, neighbourhood activities that will celebrate healthier, safer, more vibrant communities. Getting to know your neighbours and celebrating your community is easy and fun, so register your neighbourhood now!
For more information on how to organise a great Neighbours Day activity, head to www.neighboursday.org.nz