In February this year I moved house for what I decided was the last time I was going to pack boxes of books and bubble wrap glasses for a long time.
After months of negotiating, making up cardboard boxes and feeling guilty about taking the cat away from his friends it was such a lovely relief to be in my new home.
Although I only moved half a mile up the road, a new house equalled a whole new wave of neighbours, and as a naturally inquisitive – alright, nosey – person I take great pride in my people watching skills.
Every morning on my way to work I always see the same people. Such as the mother and daughter who walk down the road at 6:30 am with matching rucksacks. (Note: I don’t actually leave my house at 6:30 am – I am very much still in the curtain opening and tea drinking stage at that time of the morning.) At around 7 am an elderly Asian lady walks down the street sporting bright and colourful trainers, only to walk back up again at 7:20 am with her friend who also sports a similar choice of footwear while they have a good natter. You could time their daily walking routine to the nearest minute.
The person that I see the most is the lady I see at the bus stop. We are now at the stage of having the ‘weather’ conversation after four months of head nods which turned to smiles which escalated into a chirpy 'good morning!'
But before I got to know her well enough to start the general weather chat (we had a field day during the heat wave a few weeks back) the first thing I noticed was how every morning without fail she always picks up the litter that she sees when walking down the street and puts it in the bin next to the bus stop. Sometimes it’s a stray Pepsi can, other times it can be several cans and various sweet and crisp wrappers. One time it was a pizza box from when someone had obviously enjoyed their thin and crispy pepperoni, but not enough to dispose of the packaging. What I find most commendable, is that she doesn’t even think twice. It’s a natural reaction in her efforts to keep our area look tidy.
These types of people are what keep local communities afloat. They do their bit without hesitating or thinking 'someone else should, could or will do that'.
So not only do I appreciate my neighbour, I respect her too. I’m thankful to have a neighbour who cares about and has pride in how our road looks.
Every community has local heroes. It’s one of the main reasons why Groundwork has decided to celebrate them at the first Groundwork Community Awards on 2 November this year. To give thanks and reward local people that want to be the change – no matter how small – in their community.
So if you know someone who you think deserves a pat on the back, why not nominate them to get the recognition they deserve?
Let’s celebrate the doers, the change-makers and the local people who roll up their sleeves and get on with making our communities happier, healthier places for us all.
Because their somewhat small simple gestures have a big impact.
Post by Stacey Aplin, PR and Communications Officer