This week, we are asking you to back our Know Your Neighbour campaign – simply by speaking to each other.
The appeal has been launched by the Sheffield Telegraph and its sister title The Star, and already has the backing of a number of high- profile and respected members of the community.
Among them are Hannah Hunt, from charity Age Better, as well as Darnall community activists Sylvia and Neil Hamilton.
Also showing their support are Imam Sheikh Mohammad Ismail, Muslim chaplain at the University of Sheffield; Patrick Meleady, manager of Pitsmoor Adventure Playground; Coun Jack Scott and Youth Council representative Sapha Habib.
Mr Ismail said: “It’s an excellent opportunity for all of us, as Sheffielders, to come together. We are very lucky, we are a very unique city with lots of different people. I hope that this will be a success for all the communities. I think it’s a good initiative and I will fully support it.”
Mr Meleady said: “This is a simple but exciting project. It will provide a beacon of hope to strengthen our fantastic communities and at the inspirational launch event it was refreshing to see so many Sheffield people who care for our great city come together.”
Coun Scott said he hoped the campaign would reignite the community spirit seen in the city decades ago.
He said: “Twenty to 30 years ago, people worked together, joined a trade union and went to the pub together. These things were the glue that held communities together. Now, people work in different places, trade unions don’t exist and pubs have closed, but we need to find a way of getting that glue back because it improved the feel of society. The council will do all it can to help.”
The emergency services have also backed the campaign because, they say, knowing your neighbour can save lives.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue is encouraging people to look out for the people who live on their street.
Steve Helps, head of prevention and protection, said: “We know that social isolation is one of the biggest contributing factors to people dying in house fires.
“Taking just five minutes to notice your surroundings and keep an eye on a neighbour or friend could prevent a fire in your community and keep someone’s loved one safe for longer. We are backing the campaign and calling on local people to help vulnerable people in their communities by looking out for some common fire hazards, helping them test their smoke alarms.”
South Yorkshire Police has also backed the initiative because its says strong communities can help detect and prevent crime.
Temporary Superintendent Lydia Lynskey said: “While it is the responsibility of the police to investigate crimes, we really want communities to work together to keep each other safe – whether that’s sharing useful crime prevention advice with one another, looking out for each other’s property while on holiday, or coming together to raise awareness of a particular crime type.”
Support has also come from the Age Better in Sheffield charity and Home Instead Senior Care Sheffield. Both have brought people in together by holding events for isolated and lonely people. Home Instead holds regular community lunches to encourage residents to meet new people. In addition, Age Better in Sheffield has created a toolkit – a box filled with advice on what to do if you, or a loved one, feels lonely.
n The Telegraph wants to hear your stories of friendship. Send them to Rochelle.Barrand@jpress.co.uk via email.