January 2017

When communities come togetherWhen communities come together

It always intrigues me as to what issues have the ability to bring a community together. There are, of course, the well-versed campaigns that unite residents in a common goal, to protest against local parking regulations or inappropriate developments, for example. These types of issues tend to initially be fast-paced, with either a quick victory over the proposals or a subsequently long and drawn-out fight. Then there are the campaigns that run on a slow burn – campaigns that have a long-term objective but grab fewer headlines because of their ongoing nature and their often many strands of activities (neighbourhood watch schemes come to mind). There are two distinct community-binding processes at work here: when a group takes up opposition against a proposed change in their area, it's a reactive response; but when someone joins a neighbourhood watch group, for example, they are being proactive for their community. Both are equally commendable, and they are, of course, not mutually exclusive.

It's hard to believe the first neighbourhood watch scheme didn't begin in the UK until 1982 – it's one of those organisations we assume was always there in the background. And in many ways, it probably was, with the sound principles of improving community safety something I'm sure many living in pre-neighbourhood watch days also sought to achieve. Back then, we relied on good neighbours. Today, we have the infrastructure and the tools to magnify the effects of those good neighbours – community 2.0, perhaps.

It's about that time now when many of us will be making our own proactive decisions for the year ahead. Perhaps you, too, will find room to add 'good neighbour' to your 2017 to-do list.