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LETTER: One Thorold wants to create Neighbourhood Hubs

Community organizer Hilda Vander Klippe on a new initiative in town
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Photo: Ludvig Drevfjall/Thorold News

Letter to the Editor from Hilda Vander Klippe

In a pandemic, it’s easy to think of home as a fortress, a place to shelter from an invisible danger. But in many ways, it’s not our own four walls that keep us safe. It’s the people who surround us. It’s our neighbours. But how well do you know them? In the rush of normal life, it’s easy to ignore the people with whom we share our neighbourhoods. The pandemic, though, has given us all new reason to stay home. And we’re hoping it encourages us to get to know those who live nearby, too, even in a time of social distancing.

There is good reason for this. When neighbours share a sense of community, we are more likely to feel safe and secure, with a decreased fear of crime compared to places with little sense of community. More than a quarter of Canadians live alone, but people whose neighbourhoods are connected tend to feel healthier and happier. Neighbourhoods with a higher sense of community enjoy a higher quality of life.

“One of the strongest indicators of physical and mental health is ‘social integration’; the number of social interactions you have with other human beings no matter how brief”. Suzan Pinker. Here’s one way to use the pandemic to make our communities healthier. We think it’s time for Thorold to become more intentional about forming Neighbourhood Hubs across our city. One Thorold, a group of Thorold citizens that represent community agencies, city council, area churches and local businesses, has recently formed a Neighbourhood Hub Team. Its mandate is to “support and encourage the formation of Neighbourhood Hubs, all over our city, where neighbours connect, support and care for one another.”

We’re just getting started. We have a created a mandate, set goals, completed research and assembled a Neighbourhood Hubs resource booklet. Now we’re hoping to get your help. We are recruiting people willing to be champions in their neighbourhood. Champions take steps to build greater connections in their neighbourhood. We also want to connect with people already very active in their neighbourhoods so we can learn from them.

Would you be interested in joining? Want to be a Neighborhood champion? Are you already very active in your neighbourhood? If so, please contact Hilda Vander Klippe at hilda@myvillagechurch.ca. Cities all over the country are discovering that strong connected neighbourhoods are a key to healthy cities and happy residents. Come and join the movement!