Do you know who lives next door to you? Would you recognise them if you saw them somewhere out of context? Do you know their names and anything else about them?
I’m always amazed when I hear how many people would not be able these questions positively. In years gone by everyone did know everyone else that lived near them and knew most of their business too. There was a real sense of community that some areas just don’t have these days. With people working longer hours and both parents working during the daytime you can see how some neighbours might only very rarely bump into each other, but that’s no excuse not to make an effort.
Neighbours can be wonderful people and very handy to know too. Little things like keeping an eye on each other’s houses when someone is away, borrowing bits of DIY or gardening equipment, taking in parcel deliveries and also just being there in case you need someone suddenly. When I was in hospital giving birth to Little Miss C one of our sets of neighbours made great efforts to make sure our recycling was out on time and both sets came round with lovely gifts and cards once we brought her home too. Being at home most days I probably see one set to say hello to at least two or three times a week and it’s useful knowing that they are there and that if I needed some help suddenly I could just knock and their door and get it.
The idea behind the The Big Lunch is a very simple one from the Eden Project. To get as many of the 62 million people in the UK as possible having lunch with their neighbours once a year. It needn’t be anything fancy or formal, just something that gets you talking and building a local community that is so important. This year will be The Big Jubilee Lunch and will take place on Sunday June 3 as part of the Diamond Jubilee Weekend. If that’s too much short notice then don’t worry, just make sure you make the effort at another point in the year.
I always remember some friends of mine who moved into a new house just before Christmas and invited all their neighbours round for some mince pies and festive drinks. Once they all got together they found one woman who had lived in the street for 35 years and yet had never properly met the people who lived just five doors away and had done for 18 years. Once they got talking they discovered so much in common and this woman made a real point of thanking my friends for helping to bring that community together in a way that no one else (herself included) had bothered to do for all these years.
So go on, knock on your neighbour’s doors and ask them if they fancy joining you for lunch this Jubilee weekend, or if they can’t make it at some point later in the year. You never know who you might find living next door to you and “everybody needs good neighbours”.
Disclaimer: This video has been sponsored by Mastercard.