Neighbours Day Aotearoa: You Are Not Alone
In response to the developing implications of COVID-19, Neighbours Day Aotearoa accepts that group gatherings and events are not an option for many communities. While social distancing is our new norm we shouldn’t withdraw from neighbourly connection.
Instead of holding gatherings, Neighbours Day Aotearoa are encouraging people to have conversations with their neighbours, to make sure people are not feeling disconnected or lonely, especially people directly affected by self-isolation. Ways that locals can connect with each other include - gathering phone numbers, Skype details, and email addresses of your neighbours; joining your local Facebook community page; and dropping notes into letterboxes. Individuals such as Wellingtonian Meena Kadri are creating resources to help people reach out to their communities with flyers, encouraging people to get in touch if errands need running, and offering to be a friendly voice at the end of the phone.
For those holding small scale gatherings, please be sure to follow new advice to register anyone attending your event, and make sure you have contact details in case you need to get in touch later. The team are reiterating advice from the Ministry of Health to wash hands thoroughly, stay away if you feel sick, and limit physical contact, including finding alternatives to hugging, handshakes, kissing, and hongi – elbow tapping, ankle bumping, or the “hi-brows” raise are all great options. With social distancing becoming the new normal, having a cuppa over Skype, or having an active group text can help to combat emotional distance from those around you.
The premise behind Neighbours Day Aotearoa is that every day ‘neighbourliness’ can contribute to enhancing resilience and wellbeing, especially to vulnerable groups in our society. Being connected to our neighbours and communities is especially important at times like these, when already vulnerable people may be even more at risk. Reaching out and making meaningful connections with neighbours can combat loneliness and isolation, help improve mental health, and increase safety in our communities.
Started in 2009, Neighbours Day Aotearoa is a collaborative campaign organised to reinforce the work of the strategic partners: Lifewise, Inspiring Communities, The Mental Health Foundation, Auckland Council, Christchurch Methodist Mission, New Zealand Red Cross, Neighbourhood Support New Zealand, Wesley Community Action and Kāinga Ora.With support from the Foundation North, Rata Foundation, Lotteries and thousands of neighbours, organisations, local government and local businesses have been involved, bringing neighbours together over the last weekend in March each year.