While many people around Penrith felt isolated during the pandemic, the community is encouraged to reach out and reconnect for Neighbour Day on Sunday, March 27.
2022 marks the 20th anniversary of Relationships Australia’s national social connection campaign that seeks to address loneliness.
Research conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) through the pandemic showed that 46 per cent of respondents felt lonely during their reporting period.
ANU also found that the largest growing proportion of people who had experienced loneliness was the 18 to 24-year-old bracket.
Relationships Australia Manager, Yvonne Porter (pictured) said that the initiative is more important than ever.
“The social isolation of the past few years has shown us the value of human connection more than ever,” Ms Porter said.
“In periods of intense lockdown, fires, and floods it has been our neighbours that we have looked to, and leant on, for support so Neighbour Day this year offers a chance to sustain and strengthen that connection.”
Ms Porter said both big and small actions will have a positive affect to people’s mental health.
“What you can do could be a big barbeque where you invite people from your street or it can be as small as going on to the Neighbour Day website and using the connection cards to drop a message of hello in the letterbox of your neighbour,” she said.
“You could reconnect with a friend you haven’t seen in a while or even something as simple as a friendly smile and hello to someone at your local shopping centre.”
Lisa Cona, who helps coordinate the Golden Oldies Seniors Group through Nepean Community and Neighbourhood Services, said social connection is vital for elderly community members.
“Our group meets every Thursday at the South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre to act as a friendship group and allow our members to do different activities, but I know when we were in lockdown they really suffered with the isolation,” Ms Cona said.
“Neighbour Day is a great idea because a lot of older people live alone and something as simple as a phone call to make sure they are OK really makes their day and a difference for our community as a whole.”
To register your event or access free resources, visit neighbourday.org.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers Local, State and Federal politics for the Weekender, as well as crime and general news.