Most of us are voluntarily “self-isolating” right now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also a great time to connect with your neighbours to offer or ask for safe support. Indeed, the importance and value of the kind of work we do at Building Resilient Neighbourhoods – helping neighbours meet and collaborate with each other through programs like Resilient Streets and Connect & Prepare – has never been more evident. It’s heartening to see so many more people and groups around the world becoming ignited about neighbourly mutual aid!
So with all of the understandable concerns many of us have right now, we can also hope. We can hope that these days and weeks ahead will continue to be amazing examples for us all in the massive social changes we can rapidly bring about when we’re collectively committed to a greater goal. This is the kind of collective “can do” energy that we need to build more resilient communities, create a more equitable society, and turn back climate change!
In this spirit then, and since many people have been asking us, we’d like to share with you some of the simple, practical things that we’ve seen people doing lately to safely connect with and support their neighbours. Our experience with Building Resilient Neighbourhoods has consistently shown that, once seeded in even the smallest of small ways, relationships with your neighbours can blossom over time and become immensely valuable when facing many types of challenges.
Simple ideas for being neighbourly while self-isolating
Here are some simple ideas for how you can be neighbourly while still practicing self-isolation.
1. Write a note offering support and drop it in your neighbours’ mailboxes
- Include some ideas of support you can provide
- Don’t forget to include your contact information, including a phone number for people who may not be on email or social media.
- If anyone asks for help, set up a check-in schedule if needs/conditions change, and a plan for if they go silent.
- Pandemic Pals
- Hand-written notes
- Kindness postcards
We love this “Pandemic Pals” example tweeted by Mika McKinnon!
If you have kids, get them to write a hand-written note, like this example from Ali Currie in South London – sometimes kids can seem less intimidating than us adults! 🙂
2. Start a social media group or email list with your neighbours
- Many neighbours are staying connected through virtual platforms, email lists, and groups such as Facebook, Twitter, Riseup.net, and WhatsApp. If you’d like to set one up, you can invite neighbours to join through hand-delivered notes (see above!). Keep in mind though, that not all neighbours use or feel comfortable with social media (or email), so this might not work for everyone.
- In addition to these common social media platforms, there are a growing number of web-phone apps and website communities that help neighbours connect virtually.
- Many blocks or apartment buildings have already created email lists through initiatives such as BlockWatch or NeighbourhoodWatch which can be utilized to offer support between neighbours.
3. Start a Mutual Aid group for your neighbourhood or community
- Around the world, there is a groundswell of “mutual aid” groups being formed. Neighbours support each other through good old-fashioned phone trees, firewood delivery in rural areas, or sharing donations of food and other supplies.
- Check out the growing list of “Caremongering” groups in Canada, and start your own here.
- If you’re looking for specific tools, check out “Pod Mapping for Mutual Aid.” These tools help to create and map out small “pods” or groups of people who commit to helping each other out.
4. Get Creative and Offer Your Skills & Talent
Resilience-building can be especially fun when we share our gifts and interests with each other! Check out this example from Seville, Spain where an instructor held a fitness class for people quarantined in their homes, leading it from the roof of a nearby apartment block where they could all see and follow along.
In Seville, Spain, residents of an entire apartment complex couldn't leave their homes due to the quarantine.
So a fitness instructor went up to a rooftop and held a workout class.
Neighbors joined in from their windows and balconies.pic.twitter.com/Ez0iF7vwf3
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) March 15, 2020
What skill, knowledge, ability, or passion do you have that you could offer to your neighbours?
There are so many ways neighbours are helping each other and we’d love to hear your ideas and experiences! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can continue to add to the bank of uplifting stories and useful tools!