February 27, 2013, by offcampus
Why be a Sweet Neighbour?
This year, our PR Project Management Advantage Award students are working on a project to promote neighbourliness among students living in the local community. The campaign is called ‘Be a Sweet Neighbour’ and will be officially launched on 20th March in the Atrium. Module leader Zoe Baker introduced the module in her blog entry last week, and today we bring you student Victoria who is going to talk about why the message of this campaign is such an important one.
Moving away from halls and other on-campus housing is a big change. For around a year most students will have been in shouting distance of all their new friends. Visiting may be as simple as taking two paces out of your bedroom and knocking on the next door. The next years are very different, people live in their own homes, and friendships groups are distributed around student towns like Lenton.
A new home means new people, and a chance to completely expand your social circle. I have been very lucky with my neighbours. In second year I lived next door to a group of boys who over the course of the summer became our friends. Starting with popping their heads over the garden fence to say hello, soon we were sharing barbecues and going to each other’s parties.
This year I met Rita a few weeks into living in our house. Rita was an elderly lady who lived directly next door to us in a semi-detached house, and I could hear her listen to the Archers every morning. Rita lived alone and sometimes she really needed help with the little things. Once she asked us to post her letter, a birthday card for a close friend. Soon after we received a hand-made thank you card which she had stuck down beads and sequins to say “Thanks”.
She was a sweet lady, but one day we noticed that we hadn’t heard her play the piano or listen to The Archers in a couple of days. We called the police and the police found that she had been entered into hospital a couple of days before and she died a few days later. The policeman told us that he had recently been called to a house of students who reported that they hadn’t seen their elderly neighbour in a few months. On entering the house the police found she had died in the living room 6 weeks ago. The episode got me thinking of all those people who perhaps don’t have anybody to look out for them and could do with a neighbour to check in on them.
It is a strange idea that most people are within a few metres of another person they may never meet. We only met Rita three or four times but that was all it took for us to care about her. Meeting somebody once is enough to put a name to a face and to think more about that person. Not only is there a chance of friendship, but a neighbour you know is more likely to do something about seeing your burglar alarm going off, noticing you are about to get fined for forgetting to take your bins in, or feel bad about holding a drum and bass party until 4am on a Tuesday night . Our campaign encourages people to “Be a Sweet Neighbour” even if that means just breaking an awkward silence with a “Hello” as you both fumble for keys at the door once in a while.
We’ll be hearing more from our Advantage Award students over the next few weeks as they develop the ‘Be a Sweet Neighbour’ campaign. Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to hear from them, or if you’ve got a story about being a sweet neighbour. You can also find our top tips on being a good neighbour on our website.