Would you be a Good Neighbour?

By Tracey Cabache, Community Development Manager

Over the past few weeks we have covered in this column fantastic examples of how neighbours have been helping each other out during the Covid crisis. It reminds me of a conversation I had some 6 years ago with an older lady in Paignton.

At the time we were asking people what would make Torbay a better place live. This lovely lady told me how she would very much like to go back to the times of war. Slightly confused, and with some trepidation, I asked her to be a bit more specific – did she really want a third world war? No she said ‘I just want to bring back that feeling of community, the time when we all helped each other out, when everyone knew everyone on their street and we didn’t fear to ask for help…or to offer it’

Well, lovely lady in Paignton, we have taken very big step in that direction over the past three months. During the height of the pandemic our worlds got a little smaller – the people we would mostly see were those on our own streets. We have had conversations with people we have never spoken to before. We have worked together to make sure everyone was fine. In the words of someone much cleverer than I – out of adversity came opportunity.

Now as our ‘new normal’ begins to emerge wouldn’t it be great if we retained the connections with our neighbours? At the start of lock down we offered people the chance to be a micro-volunteer in their own street with the support of the Community Coronavirus Helpline.

More than 50 streets signed up and have been engaged in both practical things and social (distanced) activities. We are now inviting more people to jump on board with a newly designed Good Neighbours Network across Torquay and Paignton and in partnership with YES in Brixham.

Through the network support will be given to individuals or groups of people who want to bring their neighbours together. We can offer ideas, signpost to information and even provide small grants to streets or blocks who just want to become or stay connected.

We can provide advice on setting up neighbourhood Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups and telephone trees. On street socials, socially distanced BBQs or even coffee mornings by zoom. Join in with National Picnic Month throughout July, celebrate World Chocolate Day on the 7th – or even World Friendship Day on the 30th July.

Use the clap for the NHS’ 72nd Birthday on Sunday at 5pm to sound out your neighbours. To join the network you just need to register to be a good neighbour at https://bit.ly/goodneighbourtorbay or call the Community Helpline on 01803 446022 (Monday-Friday 10am – 6pm or Saturday 9.30am to 12.30pm).

Your local Community Builder will be in touch with a pack of information full of ideas. We will be sharing what’s worked between the streets/blocks in the scheme and also linking you into other relevant activities happening across the country. There has never been a better time to get to know your neighbours.

While the need for practical support may reduce over the next few weeks – many of your neighbours may be shielding until the end of July, many might need some encouragement to leave the house after such a long period of containment. Many may just need to know that there is someone who can help if they need it.

More importantly many of your neighbours may have things to offer – but they are just a little bit modest to share that they love to bake and are rather good at it. That they are a dab hand at painting – but have nothing left to paint! That they love walking dogs but do not have one.  Could you be the person/people that brings them together? If so register today.

This week sees National Cream Tea Day. Neighbours have been nominating their street for a Good Neighbour Cream Tea sponsored by the Co-op – your neighbourhood store.

We are pleased to announce the winners are:

  • Langridge Road Paignton,
  • Higher Polsham Road Preston,
  • Foxhole Road Paignton,
  • Cecelia Road Preston,
  • Ebenezer Road Paignton,
  • Lichfield Avenue Hele/Barton,
  • Babbacombe Road Babbacombe,
  • Locarno Avenue Preston,
  • Mimosa Way Roselands,
  • Lymington Road Torquay,
  • Middle Lincombe Road Wellswood,
  • Bingfield Close Wellswood,
  • Higher Furzeham Road, Brixham,
  • Fletcher Close Shiphay.

A Cream Tea for six is on its way to you! Any excuse to get together!