Community Minded: Five ways to join an existing community.

A significant problem facing the rural and regional population of Australia is isolation.

It’s common for someone to drive hours to reach their nearest neighbour or ‘local’ shop which, over a period of time, can have detrimental effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.

I live in a small but busy regional town which has an absolutely great sense of community. Our kids play together after school; businesses encourage each other’s growth and when the chips are down, you know there’ll always be someone there to lend a hand.

The two are worlds apart.

What strikes me about this is how many people are living in a situation where they could be in a close relationship with their local community, but they just aren’t. They’re busy with work and don’t have time for small talk with the neighbours; they don’t have children so have no need to attend the local school fair, or perhaps they’re just a bit of a solitary being and prefer to keep their private life, private.

These are all valid reasons for not knowing your neighbours but belonging to a close community has been proven to improve your general health and wellbeing including reducing anxiety and fostering a sense of belonging.

If you’ve got neighbours but you don’t know their name, here are five ways you can get involved and remove unnecessary isolation from your home and street:

  1. Volunteer:
    In the local op-shop, at community events or for a local group or club. Volunteering shows that you’re a community-minded team-player and is an excellent opportunity to get to know like-minded individuals. Your local online bulletin will have details of volunteering opportunities, or look up specific websites.
  2. Meet your neighbours:
    Sounds simple but invite a few of your neighbours over for a barbeque or drinks. Put a note through the doors of everyone close to you. You might be surprised to see how many of your neighbours have been waiting for somebody to make a move!
  3. Use local stores:
    The butcher, baker and local candlestick maker are always good for a chat. Use them regularly and not only are you giving back to local businesses, but you’ll also start to learn more about your community and the people in it.
  4. Go outside:
    Put your Ipad down in the evening and go for a walk, run or cycle in the local area. If you stop and chat with people along the way, you’ll be seen as a pillar of the community in no time at all!
  5. Attend community functions:
    School fairs, surf club contests and local exhibitions are all great ways to show your face in the neighbourhood. Once you’ve attended these functions a few times, have a look at how you can get involved.

Being part of a close-knit community is a two-way street and if you’re feeling that you’re not putting as much in as you could, implementing a few of these tips will help you get to know your neighbours as well as improving the overall quality of your life.

 What have you got to lose?

 

2016-07-27T11:31:28+10:00 June 24th, 2016|

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