When ‘community’ really comes into its own
We have plenty of time on our hands right now to think about our neighbours, friends in the same street, and the community we live in. And, at times like this, a true community spirit will undoubtedly shine through.
Village communities, like our own, continue to thrive right now - but in a slightly different dimension, due to the challenges of self-isolation. Even so, a community spirit of supportiveness and togetherness is still paramount.
Here’s a taste of what that looks like for us right now and how life in a retirement community really does come into its own at such a time.
What does ‘community’ mean to you?
During the war years, community spirit was potentially at its strongest, as this account suggests. The aftermath of WW11 was a time of massive social change with the implementations of the Beveridge Report which saw the creation of the welfare state and expansion of the national insurance system.
Social change has continued with every decade. As the population grows so the make-up of society evolves. Over the last 20 years we have seen dramatic change as this fascinating list from Business Insider illustrates.
For many of us, this change impacts on how we live our lives and how we communicate with others – it potentially changes the face of our communities and the essence of what constitutes a real sense of community.
For many of us, growing up in the family home and watching the generations come and go is part and parcel of life. These changes happen outside in the local neighbourhood too. Families move on, friends come and go, local amenities close down or re-open in another guise – times change and so does our local community. And while some will say for the better, others might say for the worse!
The ingredients that make up a strong community?
In our opinion, and based upon our own experiences of helping to nurture thriving communities at our 14 villages, we believe the most important features of a good community should include:
Being a good neighbour doesn’t mean living in each other’s pockets. It’s more of a mutual and respectful consideration for one another; keeping a watchful (not prying) eye out for the other and knowing you have someone you can contact or ask for help.
At the moment, this is manifesting itself in so many different ways with neighbours going above and beyond which is brilliant to see. Here are a few ideas and examples we’ve come across on being more neighbourly right now which are uplifting and good for the soul.
Our communities are packed with neighbours, many of whom become good friends. There is a healthy respect for each other’s privacy and still an underlying community spirit which comes together through the incredible social gatherings, fundraising activities and holiday ventures that neighbours organise amongst themselves.
A place to come together
At the heart of all good communities should be a village hall or even a simple meeting space where people can get together. It creates a central hub for meeting up, conversations and gatherings. Physical meeting space is like gold dust in many communities with village halls looking to fund raising committees to keep afloat.
Instead, community life takes on another dimension, as a digital gathering, similar to our own Facebook Page for people like you: Your Community Connect.
At the heart of all of our communities is a clubhouse or country club – we call it the heartbeat of the village and over the years, all 14 of these facilities have seen a multitude of social gatherings, everything from Zumba classes to bridge competitions, dinner dances to book clubs – and everything else you can imagine in between!
Peace of mind
We all want to live in a community where we can close the curtains as it gets dark and feel safe and secure in our home; or walk to the post office and meet a friendly face to stop and chat to along the way. Living in isolation (ignoring our present situation) where we never go out of the front door for fear of our own safety, or we no longer know our neighbours and only pass strangers in the street, is unthinkable.
Peace of mind in a community is best summed up for us by a group of people at our Castle Village in Hertfordshire is this two-minute video.
So, will community life change post Coronavirus?
A sense of community is a natural part of a retirement village whether there is Coronavirus or not.
Outside of our village life, time will tell as to whether our outlooks and opinion of community life will change once the pandemic has passed. While the situation has certainly brought a taste of more community spirit and community-mindedness right now, who really knows what this means for the future. We would all like to think they may change for the better – but let’s watch this space!
Get in touch
In the meantime, if this article makes you think more clearly about your own situation and what you give to or take from your community – then please share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page – we would love to know.
And, if you want to find out more about a retirement community like our own, you can always get in touch with one of our team, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01372 383950.