The community spirit that once existed so abundantly has taken a few hard hits. Neighbours no longer know each other particularly well, nor do they care to, and the support network of the local residents people could count on in years gone by has gradually worn away.
My mother-in-law is 62 and grew up in Salford. The recent depictions of some morally bankrupt Salford residents, as they went about their looting and rioting some months ago, clashed harshly with her memories.
She’ll tell you any day that she never used to lock a door and that people wouldn’t so much as touch anything that didn’t belong to them – and yet nowadays, the area is known for its roughness and a certain criminal element despite the huge number of lovely, law-abiding people who live there.
And Salford is but one of the locations suffering from these issues; up and down the country there is a sense of ‘us versus them’ that pits resident against resident. How can you pull your own local area back together and try to mitigate the effects of today’s disconnect between individual and community?
The first step is almost mind-bogglingly simple. Next Christmas, bake a few loads of cupcakes and deliver them, a few at a time, to your neighbours. Christmas cookies or small packages of hand-picked decorations around the middle of December would do, too. Essentially, you want to present them with something nice, small, and personal for the Christmas season. Of course the temptation is strong to do this only for people you know and like, but take some extra time to reach out to neighbours you don’t ordinarily speak to. At worst, you show them that some people are still friendly; at best you could gain a new friend.
Organise a charity event; perhaps you can ask people to participate in a bake sale for the local school or to help a neighbourhood resident with medical problems. You needn’t centre this on money; why not go door to door and post requests for help cooking tea for the family so they needn’t worry about cooking meals. Dishes which can easily be frozen are best as they will allow the family some flexibility.
Alternatively, why not go old-school and organise a street party? Children and adults alike can enjoy some time getting to know each other whilst eating barbecued food and drinking cordial. A small outlay could make a huge difference in terms of community spirit, and next time you organise something fun you may find others chipping in!
The idea of raising a sense of community spirit is that knowing everyone will provide them and you with a sense of responsibility towards each other. As such, unpleasant exchanges are less likely to occur; if nothing else, you’ll know someone related to the perpetrator of such exchanges and they will be unwilling to sacrifice domestic harmony for the sake of being briefly annoying. To top it off, a greater sense of community spirit can lead to a happier neighbourhood overall and allow everyone to enrich their lives through a sense of togetherness and friendship. Before you know it, your neighbourhood will be a close-knit group of caring people.