Living in a city can have many perks, but it’s not always easy to establish contact with those around us. With long working hours, the daylight fading and enough Netflix to last a lifetime it’s easy to slip into social isolation. While you may have lots of friends, it’s important to feel part of a community.
After a day at work it’s tempting to lock yourself away at home, but all to often this can lead to feelings of disconnect from the outside world. There are lots of ways you can create a sense of belonging for both you and your neighbours, which in turn can have various health, social, and economical benefits.
We’ve pulled together some ideas on how to build a community of your own.
Establish contact with other locals
Coming together with other like-minded residents will help you establish new contacts and discover what local people are looking for in your area. There’s so much to be gained from city life, so take the plunge and round up the locals so you can all work together on building a community.
By organising a neighbourhood meeting, residents can share their ideas or hobbies; perhaps there’s a project that requires assistance, or an event that needs publicising. Using public spaces such as community centres and libraries can also help build a sense of community and create a welcoming environment.
Some apartment blocks form their own residents’ associations, which is a great way to build a community. Creating a collective voice will really help build a sense of belonging.
Neighbourhood jumble trails
Another way to build a community is to set up a neighbourhood jumble trail. It’s not only a good way to bag a bargain, but it will also encourage people to step outside their front doors. Participants can use the opportunity to showcase their talents or promote their independent business. As the organiser, you’ll need to plan the route, encourage neighbours to clear out their cupboards, make a map for shoppers to follow, and publicise the event – what better way to get to know everyone.
Finding a green space isn’t always easy in the city, but community gardens or parks are great places to host various projects, so why not use them to help build a community and reduce social isolation? Put out the feelers to see if there are any other neighbours who might be interested in maintaining local gardens or setting up a community allotment. Produce could then be sold at local markets or independent cafes or you could use it to start a delicious supper club and create a real sense of community.
Alternatively, you could set up a neighbourhood clean-up project to help maintain any areas of the city that require a bit of TLC. Getting a group together will give people living in isolation the chance to engage with others in the local area, while also doing something good for the community as a whole.
A volunteer-led market can bring residents together and create a public space in which local traders can showcase their talents to the community. It may take a while to get it off the ground, but markets are a good opportunity to help create a sense of belonging and encourage people to support local businesses. This kind of exposure can do wonders for independent traders who may otherwise struggle to obtain the same publicity as high street brands or chains.
Take a look at other successful voluntary-led market models to see how you can use this idea to help build a community and decrease social isolation.
It may seem hard to compete with the number of pubs and clubs that host special events for national celebrations, but you can help tackle social isolation by hosting your own public party for everyone to get involved in. Street parties have a real sense of community at the heart of them, and with everyone in good spirits they are a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours.
Get in touch with your local council for a street party application, pull in local, independent food and drink traders and recruit the services of local musicians to keep everyone entertained.
Clubs and societies
From book clubs to running societies, there’s bound to be something out there that will take your interest and if there isn’t, set up a club of your own and spread the word amongst your neighbours and friends.
If you’re a film buff, why not try and find an outdoor cinema, or see if you can organise one in your local park? Getting a group of people together in a public space can help reduce social isolation and is much more sociable than taking yourself off to your local high street cinema.
Other ways to tackle social isolation and build a community
How much time we spend on our phones can have a huge impact on how socially isolated we feel. If you’ve not read our blog on the benefits of scroll-free September, we suggest you do!
The longer you spend scrolling the less time you have to speak to the people around you. Building a community in the city is difficult if everyone is staring at their screens, so make a conscious effort to turn off your phone and tune in with your neighbours and peers instead.
Commuting has also been cited as a direct cause of social isolation – the longer our commute the less social we are. So why not utilise the time you spend getting to work by building a car-sharing community. If you need to drive to your place of work, why not ask around to see if anyone in your local area works in the same direction? Not only will it save you money on fuel, but it will increase your contact with other city dwellers and make your journey to work more exciting.
Social isolation: How to build a sense of community in the city – A Summary
If you’re feeling isolated in the city, chances are there will be other people experiencing the same feelings as you who will appreciate your efforts to bridge the gap.
The best thing about creating a community in the city is getting to know new people and developing friendships.
Often, when we move to a new area, we may add a neighbour on Facebook or get their contact details but never try to meet up. If you’re guilty of ‘pretend friending’ why not set up a community Loose End?
Loose Ends allows you to make an open invitation so everyone can get involved. Take the first step towards creating a community and set up a Loose End, that’s when good neighbours become good friends!