When an elderly lady sadly died in her home in Melbourne and no one realised for two years – yes two years! – a man was so appalled he wrote a Letter to the Editor. The letter suggested that in light of this woman’s lonely death we should implement a ‘Check on Your Neighbours Day’.
That was in 2003. That caring man was Andrew Heslop. That elderly woman was Elsie Brown. And that was how Neighbour Day began.
Since then the growth of the once local initiative has been incredible; from starting as a request for people to check on their elderly neighbours it has developed into a national day of annual celebrations of friendship and community. In recent years Andrew has spoken at official UN functions about the opportunity to make it a global event – what an inspiration!
1. Strengthen communities and build better relationships with the people who live around us
2. Create safer, healthier and more vibrant suburbs and towns
3. Promote tolerance, respect and understanding
4. Break down community barriers
5. Protect the elderly, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged
Although it’s not for another ten days – Neighbour Day is celebrated on the last Sunday in March – families and councils are already planning for their activities. Some of these include giveaways of street cricket sets so neighbours could get together, barbeques on the front lawn (instead of the backyard so everyone can join in) and street-wide dance festivals. If you want to get your neighbourhood involved, you can download your free kit here.
No matter who you are or where you live, from an apartment block to the farm next door that you ride your dirtbike to, you have a neighbour. Please make sure you keep a look out for them, not only on March 25th, but every day throughout the year.
So, this Thursday, the Fish Chick thanks Andrew Heslop for turning such a sad story into one of community and mateship.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.