Strathcarron Hospice has recently put together a booklet, “Connecting with Your Neighbours” (part of their Compassionate Communities initiative), which gives examples of ways to connect with and form reciprocal relationships with people on your own street.
You can read the booklet text below, or view and download your own digital copy (with artwork) by clicking on the cover image:
Compassionate Communities are communities that support each other, and recognise and value the contributions that everyone is able to make, so that no one is pushed out of community life. We can all play a part in creating Compassionate Communities.
“Inspiring Compassionate Communities” celebrates success stories of neighbours connecting with each other (at a distance) through fun, laughter and story telling, both online and offline, and invites you to take part in connecting with your own neighbourhood.
What Makes You “You”?
Consider these questions:
- What would your best friend say that you are good at?
- What would they say they like most about you?
It might be that you are brilliant at welcoming people in and making them feel at home; you could be a calming influence or be great at practical jokes.
If I asked you to teach me something, what would it be?
It could be baking, meditation or even making robots from recycling boxes.
The answers you have given to these questions are your gifts. We all have them. They are what makes you ‘you’. Whether we are young or old, unwell or healthy, we all have something that we are able to contribute to our community, if we would like to.
From previous pandemics across the world, and in life in general, we have learnt that people need to be valued. Well-being is improved when we are valued, allowed to make contributions to others, and when we connect with other people at a personal level. Our hope is that everyone can be given the opportunity to contribute to their community – if they are keen to – no matter what it is that they want to contribute!
Connecting with people on your street can be about providing help where it is needed, but it can also be more fun and light hearted, and a way to form a meaningful friendship.
This is about placing importance on the value of a person, not how vulnerable they are.
There are people in communities at the moment who are not able to do their own shopping, and are less able to leave their houses than others.
Every person behind every door has a sense of humour, a range of experiences, wonderful stories to tell and a gift to share! We hope to shine a light on these stories, experiences and gifts.
In Denny, some residents have formed a telephone circle, where each member of the circle calls one other person. This means that each person makes and receives one call every week, and has new conversations and a connection with the neighbours that live nearby. These circles are easy to organise and maintain themselves.
If you would like to form a telephone circle:
- You could post an invitation through the doors of people in your neighbourhood, and ask them to call or text you if they would like to take part.
- Post your number through their letter box (please be mindful that some people may not be able to leave their homes to do this).
- You can then call each person and give them the phone number of the person they are going to contact.
Sit Out on Sunday
In some communities, neighbours are sitting outside their house at a particular time on a particular day to chat to each other and share activities together, whilst remaining a safe distance apart.
This could be, for example, every Sunday at 6pm. However, you can change this to whatever day and time you think might suit your street best!
You can invite your neighbours to join in by putting a poster in your window, writing in chalk on the pavement outside your house or popping invitations through your neighbours’ letter boxes.
Posting a handmade card, a picture drawn by a child (or yourself!), or a photograph you have taken on a walk is another lovely way to show a neighbour that you are thinking of them, or to connect with them.
You could also post these to your local care home. If you would be happy for them to write back, remember to include your address. Neighbours who are sheltering may have difficulty in posting a letter back to you, but they may have someone who is helping them to do these kinds of things, or you could include your number so they could call or text you to ask you to pick your letter back up.
There are many ways that you could gather your friends or neighbours together virtually. Facebook can be used to set up public groups (that everyone can see) or private groups (whereby you can control who enters the group and sees the content). Video calling is a good way of seeing your friends and neighbours ‘face to face’ or online group chats such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Zoom or Skype.
Virtual gatherings are also a really good way of linking together people in a neighbourhood who have similar interests, such as sewing, gardening or photography. You could invite your neighbours to take part in a similar way to the Telephone Circle above.
Once you have established a connection with your neighbours, there are endless possibilities to ways you can be neighbourly. For example:
- You could ask a neighbour to share their favourite recipe for you and your family to make, and you could share a photo of the finished product with them (or even a slice of the cake!).
- You could host an outdoor disco or street bingo during Sit out on Sunday.
- All over Forth Valley people have been sharing their gifts whilst doing the
- “Clap for Carers” on Thursday nights at 8pm by playing bagpipes, singing or performing Scottish country dancing.
- Do something to encourage or inspire people.
Community examples in practice:
– Sunflower competition on Facebook: the Killin Music Festival group were approached and asked if they could donate small cups for the seedlings and they willingly donated 150 cups. Killin Primary School are paying for compost and seeds, and three keen gardeners have come forward, happy to “start the seeds off” and produce a basic “how to care for your sunflower” sheet. Great example of community collaboration.
– A Facebook page has been set up for the community of Killin – to invite people to read a book, or a chapter of a book, to the young folk of the village. As well as stories, one person has contributed some children’s meditation. Great example of sharing gifts.
– A local photographer in Killin has created an online page where the community can share photographs, with a different theme each week. She feels “photography is all about focusing on the positive and finding beauty in every situation”. T
he first theme was “tranquillity” prompting lots of landscape photos. The next theme was “joy” which allowed people to share photos ranging from DIY projects, pets, new lambs, to Easter Eggs! The creator of the page is also sharing some photography tips. Great example of encouraging and inspiring.
– A local mum from Tillicoultry planted a seed on a social media support group when she suggested decorating a prominent Tillicoultry tree in order to spread to cheer and joy throughout this time.
The drive to dress the ‘pom pom’ tree, as it’s now been dubbed has spread like wildfire, with many people in the community contributing on their daily walks. Great example of bringing the community together.
– Members of the Tillicoultry community along with the community Council in Tllicoultry, Coalsnaughton and Devonside area joined forces with a local business ‘Tilly Tearooms’ and have encouraged people to decorate paper teapots – or write a message or poem. Initially as an activity to focus on and encourage people, this quickly turned into a competition with a couple of £15 gift vouchers now up for grabs. It closes on 1st June and all the teapots will be displayed in the tilly tearooms for all the community to enjoy. Great example of community collaboration.
Some of these may sound like they might work where you live and some may not. Others could be useful but they may need to be adapted for your particular neighbourhood. Use these suggestions however you would like! We hope this has inspired you to take another step towards being a more Compassionate Community!
Hello! I am your neighbour! My name is ………………. and I live at………………..
During this lockdown, it would be great to connect up. I thought it would be nice if we could:
- Call each other
- Start a whatsapp group for our street
- Start a facebook group for our street
- Sit outside on a Sunday at 6pm …… or whatever you may think to suggest.
This is my number……………………. Call or text if you would like to.
Connect with your community and create something beautiful together!
Alternatively, download the booklet as a pdf file.