Whether you’re new to your street or just feel like you could be doing more to know your neighbours, everything starts with a simple hello. Taking five minutes out of your day to introduce yourself can go a long way to building a happier community for everyone. If someone is new to the area, take the opportunity to make them feel welcome and fill them in on the local transport, bin schedule, facilities etc...
Older people in particular can easily feel isolated when left to themselves. Inviting them round for a cup of tea and a friendly chat can make a huge difference to the quality of their lives. While many elderly people are infact fit, healthy and independent, it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can be any help out running errands or with jobs around their house.
Read more of our tops tips for breaking the ice with your neighbours from Psychology Lecturer, Dr Sandi Mann here
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Offer to lend a hand
People are often very proud and won’t want to ask for help even though they could probably use it. Don’t feel like you're imposing by offering to help out where you can. It’s much better to be overly concerned than not to care. That way when a situation occurs when neighbours need help they know they can always ask for it rather than struggle alone.
Simple jobs can easily become difficult, especially as we grow older and a helping hand can be greatly appreciated. This can be as simple as carrying their shopping or pitching in with household jobs like changing light bulbs or putting the bins out. Getting around can also become more difficult too. The offer of a lift, whether it be to a doctor’s appointment or the hairdresser, can be greatly appreciated too. By running errands, you have a non-intrusive way to regularly check up on them.
Don’t feel obligated to do everything yourself. Make a note of their next of kin so you can raise any concerns to them if you have any. If that isn’t possible, and you suspect they might be in trouble, try contacting your local council to if they can arrange anyone to come visit.
Keep an eye out for alarm bells
There are several changes in behaviour you should look out for that should raise concern. Perhaps you haven’t seen your neighbour for a few days, the post is gathering in their letter box or you’ve noticed their curtains have been drawn for a while. Try asking around to see if anyone knows if they're away. It could just be that they haven't told anyone, but wouldn't you rather have someone check on you if they were worried? It doesn’t take much to knock on the door and check everything is ok.
Even if you're not a member of a ‘neighbourhood watch’ it is important you keep an eye on your surrounding properties as well as your own. That way, you can be ready to call the police if you suspect a criminal activity.
Keep communication lines open
In this digital age, we are more socially connected than ever before. Electronic communications are a fantastic way to keep in touch with people instantly around the world but work equally well on a local level. Perhaps you can suggest setting up a group email or WhatsApp group to keep in touch. This is the perfect way to share community news about events and local groups or keep people informed about local crimes you’ve heard about.
That said, there is no substitute to a face to face chat for getting to know someone and building your relationship.
You might have had your annual gas safety check, but what about your neighbours? A regular service of all gas appliances – boilers, cookers, fires and heaters – is the best defence against carbon monoxide leaks.
Gas safety checks are carried out by Gas Safe Registered engineers. By inspecting the condition of the appliance, pipework, air vents and flues, as well as undertaking necessary performance test, the engineer can ensure your appliances are operating safely and efficiently.
Dominic Rodgers was 10 when in 2004 carbon monoxide seeped into his bedroom from his neighbour’s faulty boiler, killing him in his sleep. Taking the time to make sure the people on your street have had their annual gas service can help prevent tragedies like this from happening again. Likewise, a carbon monoxide alarm can act as an early warning system and can be a vital piece of kit for keeping you, your family and your neighbours safe.