Neighbour Day: An important time to be ‘neighbourly’

With all non-essential activity across our state to be shut down to combat the spread of coronavirus, this time will be proving a lonely and difficult time for many in our community,.

Maroondah Mayor Councillor Mike Symon said it was important – now more than ever – to show kindness to one another and offer support to those most vulnerable in our community.

“Neighbour Day is on Sunday 29 March, and in light of everything going on at the moment, it’s important that we do what we can to help the elderly, lonely and disabled members of our community,” Cr Symon said.

“There can be a temptation during times of crisis to think of oneself and one’s family first, and depending on your situation, you may not have the resources to do more. But for those who have the ability to support others, it’s a crucial time to do so,” he said.

“If someone has been advised to self-isolate or is just worried about leaving the house there are still plenty of things you can do to help, like picking up groceries or prescriptions, or simply running errands for them.

“For those who have elderly neighbours, it’s a good opportunity to check in and make sure that they are ok and to remind them that they have neighbours they can call on if in need.

“Call or text them and ask if there is anything they need, be it a box of tissues or a cup of sugar, and offer to leave it outside their front door so they can pick it up without coming in direct contact with you.

“If you feel comfortable going out, consider knocking on the door of any elderly neighbours and chatting through the screen, or as a way of offering comfort and reassurance. Alternatively, drop a note inside their letterbox with your details,” Cr Symon said.

“Where people are self-isolating, it is not just up to supermarkets, but also friends and neighbours to support them in getting the food and goods they need. This is a time for everyone to come together and support one another, particularly those who are most vulnerable within our community,” he added.

As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, Australians have also turned to online communities for support and assistance.

“During this time, we can still cultivate our support network online while maintaining a safe social distance in a physical sense. Communities around the country and the world are rallying to help older people or those living alone, and many are using social media to unite those who can provide assistance, some under the hashtag #HowCanIHelp,” he said.

Cr Symon said this year’s Neighbour Day theme of ‘Social connection’ highlighted the importance of community engagement and neighbourhood connection.

“Social connection makes us feel better as it can help prevent loneliness, isolation and depression.

“For those who already have established relationships with their neighbours, then this is the perfect chance to say ‘thanks’ for being a great neighbour. But it’s also a good excuse to introduce yourself to new members of the neighbourhood or get reacquainted with those you haven’t spoken to in awhile,” Cr Symon said.

“We are blessed in Maroondah with a strong sense of community and I encourage residents to do what they can and to be ‘neighbourly’. We all have a role to play during this challenging time. Remember, your note or invitation may make a significant difference to the life of your neighbour,” he said.

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