Know Your Neighbour: Let's create a city of caring and sharing
I have been pushed, usually in the politest possible way, to do more for every corner and for each neighbourhood.
The fight for Sheffield is well under way but you want more.
I’m still as stubborn as all Sheffielders, you’ll be relieved to hear, so my initial conclusions haven’t changed.
This is an amazing place but it has a long way to go and needs very determined leadership to push it forward faster.
We have had a generous serving of progress on many of the major issues – the city centre, major new businesses, investment and even football.
But you have taught me that small details matter and Sheffielders are hugely keen to rally to their city’s cause ... we just don’t always know how to do that.
In this wonderfully friendly, fourth biggest city in the country it is hard to leave the house without bumping into people you know.
Dog walkers say hi to everyone, pensioners still cross tiny babies’ palms with silver and, contrary to popular belief, we do stop and give help when it is needed.
Yet this is also a city filled with ‘strangers’ and lonely folk.
The chances are one of your close neighbours fits into that category.
One thing that always puzzles and frustrates me is that there are so many lonely people. Can’t links be built between them?
This is an enormous issue for many elderly Sheffielders but they are not unique.
It is ironic that our teenagers may have hundreds of virtual friends, but not one person they can really talk or turn to when desperate.
We celebrate that women are taking on more senior roles in the city yet there are new mums who don’t feel able to lean on anyone in their community when their baby just won’t sleep.
It is in the interest of every Sheffield business for our city to flourish but can’t they work more closely together to help that growth?
Hand on heart, I don’t know the people who work in the firms who surround The Star offices. Shouldn’t bosses be building links with others and strengthening our city network?
Sheffield is turning a corner and there are influential people making the right noises, but it isn’t enough.
There are some raw nerves in this city and plenty of touchy subjects but we must acknowledge and face the problems if they are ever going to change.
Every one of us needs to make a difference.
So today, backed by a plethora of community and voluntary groups who play a large part in making Sheffield what it is, The Star is asking you to Know Your Neighbour.
One of the aims of this campaign is to challenge your thinking.
Please don’t bother with, society doesn’t work like that any more or it isn’t like the old days.
Our city is what we make it. So what actually stops you from taking time to have a conversation with your own neighbours?
Another aim is to highlight the brilliant work already taking place. We want the right people to know there are groups out there offering help and support.
We also want to shine a spotlight on the neighbourhoods that demolish negative attitudes and the kind of people who have convinced me that individuals do make a difference.
There are many of them. Perhaps you are one?
They bake cakes when babies are born, help the less-able with shopping, throw street parties every summer, share a drink at Christmas and keep an eye on each other’s home during holidays.
To them it doesn’t matter about age, political views, religion, colour or sporting allegiances – they are all just Sheffielders willing to look out for one another and their city.
Shouldn’t that be all of us?
The Star wants to build bridges and reduce loneliness in Sheffield by encouraging everyone to get to know their neighbours better, do good deeds for them and take pride in our neighbourhoods.
We have forged a unique relationship with the city’s Pakistani Muslim Centre and Link FM to break down barriers with the new campaign and reach as many people as possible.
We will also be working with the city’s leading institutions to spread the word and would love to hear from businesses who can offer support.
There will be a different theme each month throughout our Know Your Neighbour campaign to help individuals and streets as well as whole neighbourhoods.
But we need your help.
Take a selfie with your neighbours and share it with us; find a fact about your street and spread the word; thank somebody for their help through our pages.
There are no rules about how you get to know your neighbour but we are starting with basics ... Talk to Your Neighbour.
Throughout May we will be encouraging you to spark a conversation, share a smile and just talk to somebody on your street.
How hard can that be?
How would you like to see The Star’s Know Your Neighbour campaign develop?
Get involved, share your suggestions and tell us how well you Know Your Neighbour.
Email reporter Rochelle Barrand at [email protected] or call 0114 276 7676 ext 3026.