Since the pandemic, many of us have started to create a greater sense of community. Our lack of freedom has made a space for imaginative ideas; we’re all in the same predicament and our shared experiences help to bring us together. Here are some useful ways to expand your own sense of community.
Know your “area” (and don’t make it too big)
Consider starting a social media group specifically for your neighborhood. This can be used to share information about people who may be alone or in need of support.
Important: Ask people in the group if they want to offer support. Discern whether people feel they should help, rather than if they really want to. If people feel overloaded, they may pull out and feel guilty about it.
Find out how much time each person can (realistically) offer. One hour a week, where someone is fully-focused, is better than someone offering more and resenting it.
Everyone in your community has different talents and skills; ask people to share these with the group. Delegate according to people’s specific skills and talents.
Who needs what in your community?
-Who in your immediate area is vulnerable, elderly, or infirm?
-Who might be lonely?
-Who needs a bag of food or would love a cooked meal?
-Who is struggling financially?
Get to know others in your community
Make an effort to talk to one person you don’t know, every day.
Smile … a lot! When we smile, even with a mask, our eyes change. This makes us more approachable.
Talk to someone — at the shops, walking your dog, taking the children for a walk. Utilize every opportunity to talk to people. Invite them to the social media group for your neighborhood, give them your phone number or email address.
Even if someone doesn’t want to actively support your community, they may be able to share information about people who are struggling or alone.
Enlist the help of local businesses and groups
Certain businesses may be able to help with printing flyers or providing food, clothes, and other useful items.
Spiritual and religious groups may be able to provide volunteers or run a more coordinated service to the community. This might include organizing a food bank or an exchange of goods service.
Some inspiring ideas…
A group of parents in a UK community wanted to set up a little game for the local children. They informed other parents via posters in their windows. The group decided to put children’s books in plastic wallets and hide them in the hedges. When a child found the book, they read it and put it back in the plastic wallet. They then placed it in another hedge for other children to find.
This same community also used handmade posters to impart all sorts of information to others, e.g. that someone is self-isolating and needs certain items from the shop. Or they need someone to walk their dog or other support needs.
Hopefully, some of these ideas will inspire you to create your own more thriving community. We may be limited in our physical interactions, but not in coming up with creative solutions to help our neighbors.