Look out for your neighbours

We all buy far too many Christmas cards each year. There’s a always a spare, sometimes a box or two that go back in the attic or the back of a store cupboard to come out again next year.

This year the local police service, Avon & Somerset Police are asking you to put a spare card to good use.

Could you send a card to someone in your neighbourhood who might be feeling lonely or socially isolated. This is not an imagined problem.  Every Christmas, Avon and Somerset Police receive a high level of calls from people who don’t need help from police but who have no-one else to turn to. Last year alone they received over 28,000 calls received in a two week period during the festive season. These included calls from people who were lonely, anxious, vulnerable or frightened and who desperately needed comfort and reassurance.

Becky Tipper, Head of Command and Control for Avon & Somerset Police, explains the thought behind this new appeal “We ask people to keep an eye on the welfare of elderly and vulnerable neighbours all year round, but especially at Christmas.  This year we are suggesting that instead of putting spare Christmas cards back in the box, people use them to reach out to those in their community who might benefit from a friendly greeting.

It might be someone you see every day but have never spoken to, a neighbour who lives alone and doesn’t have many visitors or a person who’s new to the community.  It’s important to remember that loneliness and isolation can affect anyone of any age and for a huge number of reasons. One small act of kindness can mean so much and a spare Christmas card could potentially be a lifeline to someone at a time when they need it most.”

Will White, Head of Neighbourhoods and Partnerships, notes there are other ways that you can look out for lonely and vulnerable neighbours over the festive season, some are very simple and apparently small things. But when you are lonely and vulnerable, small things can make a really big difference.

Things as simple as just saying “hello” and smile when you see them

Consider who might be feeling lonely or isolated and make a special effort to engage with them

Keep an eye out for unusual activity e.g. not following a usual routine or leaving post or deliveries unattended for a while

Check if they need help or support in difficult weather conditions

Rogue traders and criminals target elderly and vulnerable people so keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the neighbourhood

Use Christmas as a way to build relationships with your neighbours which can last all-year round

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