There’s nothing quite like the feeling of belonging. Humans are social animals, and wanting to be part of some sort of community where there’s support, familiarity and a feeling of shared responsibility for the happiness and well-being of others is almost an instinctive need. Once upon a time, being part of a collective unit was how we survived. And, while we aren’t likely to face marauding thieves from neighbouring villages these days, in many ways our well-being is still dependent on the community that we surround ourselves with.
However, sometimes circumstances can make you feel like you’re on the outside looking in. Perhaps you’re newly single, missing a partner who has recently passed away, or living in a new and unfamiliar city or neighbourhood, for instance.
Those can certainly be challenging situations to face. Happily, there are simple, small ways to make yourself feel more a part of the community you’re in, to create a sense of community if you don’t have one, and to make the neighbourhood where you live warm and welcoming for others too.
How to feel connected and connect with others
- Step outside and say hello. Take a stroll after dinner and stop to have a short conversation with at least one person you meet along the way.
- Introduce yourself if you’re new to the neighbourhood and make a point of welcoming others as they move in too.
- Check online to find out where and when the nearest blood donor clinic is being held near you, then recruit friends and neighbours to join you as you give the gift of life.
- Take your children or grandchildren to the park. They’ll meet new friends, and you might too.
- Beautify neglected public spaces in your community by getting friends and neighbours to help you prep gardens or planters for summer beauty. Just be sure to check with your Council first.
- Build a Little Free Library for your front garden and share your love of books with those around you.
- Organise a street party. What better way to foster a sense of community than by sharing hot dogs and cold drinks under a warm summer sky?
- Support small businesses whenever you can. It’s important to shop at independent shops (many of which are often owned and run by people living within your community) because it keeps those businesses healthy and thriving. It also gives you another chance to get to know the locals.
- Participate in community events. Check notice boards in your building or community centre to find out about fun events in which you might want to participate.
- Support your child or grandchild’s school. Go to bake sales, volunteer to help with clubs and go on field trips.
- Advocate for your community by contacting your local government and expressing your concerns about things like lack of accessibility in public buildings, support for the homeless, or the need for transport improvements.
- Lend a hand with projects happening in your community, such as food or clothing donations, and neighbourhood beautification initiatives. If you’re a Foresters member, visit MyForesters.com to see what volunteer opportunities are available near you.
- Encourage others to join you in supporting a good cause. Foresters members can use a Foresters Community Volunteer grant as seed money to organise a fundraiser or a volunteer activity for a local charity. Members can also help their community with a one-time £200 Foresters Care grant.
Being part of a caring, friendly community brings us comfort and joy at all stages of our lives. Giving back to that community and helping to strengthen it—even by doing small, simple things—gives us a purpose and is one of the best ways to make sure the neighbourhoods and communities we love continue to grow and thrive.