Getting to know the neighbours with help from the council

WHEN Mount Helen resident Marita Beames heard about the Ballarat City Council’s Meet the Neighbourhood program she sprung into action and organised her own event.

The initiative helps residents get to know their neighbours by organising a party on the front lawn or in a neighbourhood park.

Ms Beames said she dropped invitations into about 23 letterboxes around her neighbourhood and was delighted when nearly every household showed up to her party on February 7.

“The ones that didn’t turn up were on holidays and they rang us and thanked us and said what a great idea,” she said.

“Some of the people I knew, some I didn’t, so I did name tags up, including how long people had been in the neighbourhood.”

National Neighbour Day will be held on Sunday, March 30, and in the lead-up the council is encouraging residents to create strong neighbourhood connections by saying “hello” to a neighbour or by organising an official Meet the Neighbourhood event.

The city is providing a limited number of Meet the Neighbourhood $50 supermarket gift cards to assist with the cost of buying food for an official party.

They can be applied for year-round.

“With technology, people are probably more likely to keep to themselves but in my parents’ day there was a lot more of a community feel,” Ms Beames said.

“Today most people work, husbands and wives, and there’s not that opportunity to probably mix with people.”

Ms Beames said her event was a chance to discuss the need for a neighbourhood fire plan, but it was mainly just about making introductions and having a bit of fun.

For more information, contact the council’s community development project worker Paula Roozenburg on 5320 5183 or email paularoozenburg@ballarat.vic.gov.au

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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