Community News-December is usually a time for doing lots of things with friends and family but this year may be slightly less. The sense of community can still be “present” with other people in many ways. Connecting, socialising, learning new things and even reaching some sort of united goal – brings many benefits to your physical and mental health. Feeling part of a team gives a huge sense of well-being, belonging and often achievement. This is often through your job, as many people work in a team, or in sports but there are many other ways to be part of a team or community.

E.g. When I left my job where I was part of a team and had children, I then felt a void of belonging to a team. I joined Rock Choir and got back these feelings of connecting, contributing to an achievement and sharing a passion with a group.

People connect directly to others within a local or physical community. People also connect through technology, West Berkshire Villagers is a great example of a local community connecting physically and via technology. But connecting online doesn’t have to have anything to do with where you live and the options are limitless. Relationships and attachments between people who are far apart can sometimes be stronger than those living next to one another on the same street.

Looking throughout history, neighbours were said to provide the sought-after sense of solidarity, security and proximity associated with the word ‘community’. But privacy is also key – looking at any street’s infrastructure you see fences, hedges, walls, gates etc. that are designed to keep people apart rather than to bring them together. Despite this, in general, a neighbourhood is a place where people look out for each other.

When lockdown started, I knew a few neighbours to say hello to, but that was it. During lockdown, we took more time to talk to neighbours from a distance, clapped key workers on a Thursday evening from our driveways (but with a sense of togetherness) and baked cakes to deliver to each other’s doors. Just these few gestures made such a difference to the sense of community from our point of view. Did you get to know your neighbours more this year?

Christmas time is chaotic, but it’s also a time people think more about volunteering to help in the local community. If you haven’t got the capacity it can be simply picking up some litter rather than walk by, making a point of saying ‘hello’ to someone you don’t know or checking-in with an elderly relative or vulnerable neighbour.

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