It is probably the very fact that we live crowded together in cities that leads to many people not knowing their neighbours at all. It is understandable that the more people are crowded together, the more they value their private space, but this hinders the development of “neighbourly neighbourhoods” and can lead to isolation.
Knowing our neighbours increases our safety, especially if we can reach each other in the event of an emergency. But it can also ease tricky social situations instead of leading to unpleasantness – for example the occasional noisy party – thus helping to make our community a more pleasant place to live.
It is understandable that you would not want to give sensitive information to a new arrival, or to somebody you haven’t even spoken to, so perhaps you could take a gradual approach…
Instead of just a mumbled greeting the next time you meet in the street or over the fence, make a point of engaging in conversation with a neighbour. If it feels “right”, suggest that you swap mobile numbers in case you need to get hold of each other for any reason. Tell newcomers about the street WhatsApp group if you have one and tell them about MCSI, suggesting that they become a member so that they can be added automatically to the two MCSI WhatsApp Groups. Suggest that they visit www.mcsi.org.za for more information.
Keep up the personal contact as often as you can until you feel comfortable with sharing more information, such as contact numbers for your work or others in your household.
Make some copies of the “Know Your Neighbour” information sheet downloadable from the links below. You can either print out and fill in the PDF version by hand, or fill in the DOC version on your computer and print out as many copies as you need. Give one with your details on it to your neighbour and ask them to give you their safety information. Printing out a blank sheet will make it easy for them to share their details.
We recommend that you consider including:
- The homes you can see from your front door
- The homes on either side of you
- The homes that back onto your property
- Other people you already know and trust in your immediate area
Give a key to a trusted neighbour – this can can save having your door broken open in the event of an emergency, or simply if you lose your keys.
If you are uncomfortable about giving your information to one or more of your neighbours, consider whether you might feel differently if you got to know them better.