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Tips to become more neighbourly

Right now, we’re all looking for silver linings. And although it’s unprecedented, and a little scary, these unsettling clouds in our current climate are still lined with silver!

For those of us lucky enough to be self-isolating with our loved ones, we’re slowing down and appreciating each other. For those who are alone though, not being able to go to the local shop and chat with the staff, or catch up with friends at their local sports club, the current climate may be causing distress. 

It’s never been more important to reach out to our community and neighbours. While regular routines have changed due to a need for social distancing, Feros Care and our charitable initiative, Be Someone For Someone, have partnered with Relationships Australia for Neighbour Day on Sunday.

Held annually on the last Sunday of March, Neighbour Day encourages social connection and while engaging face-to-face is no longer possible, as an official Very Neighbourly Organisation (VNO), we’ve come up with some other ways you can become and remain neighbourly.

1. Pick up the phone

As public-health experts urge Australians to stay home, there’s never been a better time to pick up the phone, reach out to those around you and remind them that they are not alone. Video platforms like FaceTime and Skype provide the added bonus of being able to video call your neighbour, to check in and see how they are dealing with the isolation. If you don’t know your neighbour’s phone number/s why not pop a quick note in their mailbox inviting them to call you for a chat.

2. Create an online group

Neighbourly residents across the country are setting up Facebook groups and creating online spaces where locals can share resources and offer support. These groups are most effective when they have a specific focus and aim to fill a gap. It could be a place to share official updates or maybe just an opportunity for a virtual chat. 

3. Do a mailbox drop 

For some more vulnerable community members, learning to use new technology can be extremely overwhelming – especially with the current heightened anxiety. Writing letters to older neighbours and delivering it to their doorstep is an excellent way to ensure they still feel connected, without having to venture outside. The long-lost art is also a great way to keep the kids busy if they’re home from school! 

4. Be respectful 

We all need food and other supplies, but it’s essential to be mindful of only taking what you need, so there is enough for everyone in the neighbourhood. It’s also risky for older adults to go out to physical stores, so picking up a few extra items for your elderly neighbours will ensure they don’t need to put themselves in danger. 

5. Smile and wave

It’s amazing what a simple smile can do to lift someone’s spirits. If you’re able to go out to shop, keep your distance but connect with a smile and a hello to your fellow shoppers. Or wave and say hi if you’re out exercising.

While casually dropping into someone’s home isn’t an option right now, it’s important to remember that this period of isolation is only temporary and once over, re-establishing physical connections will be more important than ever. We can look forward to street parties, garage sales, sharing a lift to yoga, or just stopping for a chat down the street. 

Until things are back to normal, Feros Care and Be Someone For Someone encourage you to maintain and build connections in your neighbourhood so we can face this uncertainty together – because no one should feel lonely. 

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