By Sam Robinson, Neighbour Day Campaign Manager
Every year, hundreds of communities throughout Australia host Neighbour Day events – from large events hosted by many enthusiastic local councils, to small backyard gatherings with a few neighbours keen to connect with each other.
We have been asking many Neighbour Day hosts and participants about their experience of running an event and we thought it would be useful to share some of their insights so you can make the most of your Neighbour Day event.
Perhaps the key piece of advice is that the event needs to be adapted to your local neighbourhood. Successful events are built around the characters of the people in your community, the facilities you have available, and sometimes the support and generosity of local authorities and community organisations in making facilities available.
We suggest for your first Neighbour Day event, only attempt something you think is manageable.
If possible pick a communal area if not the local park, a front lawn or even car park might do. This kind of venue will be far less intimidating for people than a house or in an apartment and it may encourage more people to join in.
If you are planning to use facilities on council land, make sure you contact your local councils or shire. They are often supportive of initiatives to strengthen their community with a number of councils across Australia acknowledged as Very Neighbourly Organisations.
As you plan your event, think about involving your neighbours. They may have some great ideas about what you can do and also help out with the practical tasks of preparing and issuing invitations, preparing food, making name tags, blowing up balloons and creating a clean-up squad.
Once you’ve decided on a venue and what you are planning to do at your event, jump online and register it with us here at Neighbour Day. It only takes about 30 seconds but it helps us measure community interest in Neighbour Day and shows that you and your neighbours want to create healthy, and resilient neighbourhoods.
If you are keen to get a crowd along, don’t forget to publicise your event. We have a few helpful resources on our website that can assist.
A challenge for all hosts each March is the weather – with March proving to be an unpredictable month for sunshine, rain, storms, warmth and even cyclones. So make sure you have a wet/warm/cold/storm weather plan!
And don’t forget to stay safe –any risks associated with the conduct of Neighbour Day events are the responsibility of the hosts and their neighbourhoods and communities. It is important to consider the wellbeing of participants in your event planning.
The one common thing about both participants and hosts at Neighbour Day events is that they all have a similar shared desire to create, deepen or renew relationship with neighbours.
People who attend Neighbour Day gatherings report that they value their community as much as the hosts, and the most immediate effect of Neighbour Day for them is that they create new relationships, or renew and deepening existing relationships.
With continued interaction, these relationships then often led to increased neighbourhood trust and neighbours experiencing a greater sense of safety in their neighbourhood
Neighbour Day events also led many people joining existing community groups, or organising their own groups and events.
Our research shows that ongoing Neighbour Day events develop a sense of community ownership, often reduced the effort required from a host to organise the event because all their neighbours pitch in, or step in to take on the organising role themselves.
So don’t delay – get organised, get busy and get your Neighbour Day event planning underway!