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Digital Subscriptions > Be Kind > July 2019 > In the neighbourhood

In the neighbourhood

Jake Stones looks at why we’ve drifted apart from those living next door

Every Saturday on a road in Armley, Leeds, the residents close off either end of the street with wheelie bins, get a brew on, and spend the morning socialising in the fresh air. This event happens in agreement with the local council, and is perhaps a relic of a dying tradition. That fading convention is the simple dynamic of knowing those who live within your immediate radius, better known as, your neighbours.

The notion of ‘the neighbour’ comes with the all-too-classic image of our youthful grandparents popping next door to see how the family are getting along, to discuss work, conduct armchair politics while leaning on the fence and, of course, to borrow some sugar.

Nowadays, ‘the neighbour’ is an inhabitant of the flat or house attached to your own – and often, very little more than that. Quite simply, we no longer know them. In fact, as many as 68 per cent of people apparently regard their neighbours as ‘strangers’, with 73 per cent – nearly three-quarters of us – saying that they don’t know their neighbours’ names.

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About Be Kind

Hello, What makes a home? Is it where your family is? The town you grew up in? Or maybe it’s wherever you lay your hat? After years of moving around to different cities, taking different jobs and making different groups of friends, I’ve realised that home can take many forms throughout your life. My nan’s house watching Gladiators and Blind Date with my brother was home. The campervan that housed all my worldly possessions when travelling in Australia was (a very tiny) home. The London flat share with my best girlfriend in my 20s was home. The house I grew up in will always sound, smell and feel like home. And I hope I still have many homes left to discover. This month I’ve read so many stories of ‘home’ – from foster parents, the elderly, my colleagues and the communities striving to make the displaced feel safe and welcome. I’ve spoken to the people who attempt to make their towns a better place for all to live in, the ones who say ‘yes’ and go the extra mile to help other people. I’ve learned about places where neighbours are friends, not anonymous nuisances, and those who are happy and comfortable living alone. A home forms part of your identity and that’s a lot more than just bricks and mortar – it’s the people you love and the community you’re surrounded by that underpin it all. Enjoy the issue, Phillipa Editor