By Melodie Veldhuizen
Whether people have lived in the neighbourhood for a long time, or neighbours have just moved in on the street or in a complex, good neighbourliness benefits everyone. A good relationship with the neighbours creates safer and friendlier communities. It also ensures an environment where everybody feels comfortable and at home. Following are a few hints on how to promote good neighbourliness.
- Go and welcome new-comers and show interest. Feel free to take along some refreshments – when people are unloading and unpacking there is little time to prepare food. Many people protect their privacy and will not accept help summarily, but this does not prevent you from offering to help with the unpacking.
- As soon as they have settled, invite them for coffee or lunch or organise a street or complex braai, so that they can meet all the other neighbours.
- Inform them about the whereabouts of the nearest shopping centre, fuel station, library, churches, schools, hospital and medical practitioners, hairdresser and other places of interest. You can also provide them with a list of important contact numbers.
- Share the neighbourhood’s safety information: Provide a list of emergency numbers (the nearest police station, ambulance and fire station, neighbourhood watch and community policing forum). If your neighbourhood has a WhatsApp group, invite your new neighbours to join.
- Be willing to help:
– When your neighbours go away for a weekend or a holiday, offer to care for their pets and plants.
– Offer to take care of each other’s children in an emergency situation.
– If the neighbours have transport problems, or due to circumstances cannot visit a shop, offer to do the most essential shopping for them when you are going to do yours, or offer a lift to shops, the library, church, school or work.
– Offer to mow the neighbours’ lawn if they aren’t physically able to do so themselves (for example an elderly person, or someone with a disability), or a single mother.
– When the mother of the family is sick/in hospital, offer to take care of the children, prepare food and do the shopping.
- Involve the neighbours in a lift club to take or fetch children to school or extra-mural activities.
- Keep your erf and sidewalk clean and tidy. If all the residents cooperate, it will contribute to a clean, tidy and pleasant environment of which all the residents can be proud. Unfortunately, one untidy erf has a negative effect on the appearance of the entire street.
- Keep your pets (especially dogs) in the erf to ensure they will not be a danger to the neighbours, the neighbours’ children or traffic in the neighbourhood.
- Restrict noise – it is inconsiderate to play your music so loudly that your neighbours can hear it (especially if you don’t have the same taste in music). Warn the neighbours timeously if as an exception you are planning a noisy party and say until what time the noise will continue. Don’t mow the lawn when many people usually take a nap.
- When walking or jogging in the neighbourhood, greet the neighbours you see in a friendly manner. You don’t need to start chatting to everyone.
- Share some scones, pancakes, vetkoek or other goodies you have baked with the neighbours.
- Avoid gossip – What takes place in your neighbours’ homes is none of your concern, unless it is of a criminal nature. A single titbit (true or false information) or insensitive remarks about your neighbours can spread through the neighbourhood like wildfire and place people in a bad light unnecessarily. Unfortunately, the truth is always embellished on.
- It’s easy to make a pest of yourself, especially in a complex or retirement village where people’s privacy can easily be invaded due to the lack of fences. Take heed not to do so.
Remember: Good neighbourliness does not mean that you have to be friends with every family or person in the neighbourhood or complex, but it shows that you care and take your neighbours’ interest to heart.