We talk a lot about connected communities and the positive outcomes that occur as a result. But what do we actually mean by the term?
Being part of a connected community means knowing who you live next to; saying hello, smiling, waving and stopping for a chat from time to time. It could mean borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbours, or children playing in each others' back yards or together at the park, or inviting people on your street to watch the football at your place. Ultimately, connected communities are residents who look out for each other. Though there's a bit more to it than just having someone feed the cat while you're away.
We hear stories about neighbours looking after each other in times of great need, like the neighbours who rallied together to support a woman with cancer, helping take her to appointments, cook her meals and keep her company through chemo. Or the friendship between neighbours that helped support four women through redundancy, bereavement and gender transition. Or the street that now holidays together each year.
Connected communities help tackle issues that matter to the people they live with. Like the community that runs weekly pub catch ups that give lonely people a chance to meet others. Or the woman who runs a community garden for children, teaching them about healthy eating while they learn to grow vegetables. Or the man that created a comfortable shared space in an unused commercial property, giving people a place to gather, relax, try new things like yoga and meditation, and help with personal development.
Connected communities are more resilient. They are better able to spring back when hard times hit, protect and prepare themselves against global issues, and, research shows, they are happier and healthier.