National Neighbour Day Founder Calls Time
22 October 2013 at 8:45 am
An Australia-wide search has begun for a national Not for Profit organisation or group with the capacity and resources to take responsibility for national Neighbour Day – set up by the 2012 NSW Volunteer of the Year, Andrew Heslop.
The annual day – held in March every year – was set up to promote social cohesion and build social capital by encouraging residents of all ages to get to know their neighbours.
Andrew Heslop, who started the day in 2003 after the lonely death of an elderly woman was discovered two years after she died in her home, says it’s now time to pass the baton on.
Heslop says he has self-funded Neighbour Day from his own resources since 2003 after repeatedly being unable to secure any philanthropic, corporate or government funding to support his vision.
“It is with an enormous sense of pride and achievement that I have made the decision to relinquish Neighbour Day after guiding it for more than ten years,” Heslop said.
“Giving up something which you have developed, nurtured and protected for such a long period of time is hard – but the reality is much harder.
“Neighbour Day needs financial support that is significantly greater than what I am able to provide. It needs a formal structure and a team of people who can guide it during business hours – not after hours and on weekends as I have needed to do. It needs an office and resources – not just me, my MacBook and my iPhone.
“The simple reality is that Neighbour Day now needs a bigger home, a more secure home, and I am hoping that I can find it one.
“The enthusiasm and willingness which Australians in urban and regional areas have shown for the concept and messages behind this annual celebration of community continues to be extraordinary – and for that I am especially grateful, ” Heslop said.
The idea behind the national day was first proposed in a letter to The Age in March 2003 after Victoria Police found the remains of Mrs Elsie Brown in her Melbourne home – forgotten by her neighbours, friends and family. A coroner later established Mrs Brown’s death had occurred two years earlier in January 2001.
What started as an urgent call to check up on elderly, vulnerable or single neighbours living alone has grown to become a national series of street parties, barbecues, open days, festivals, fairs and other formal and informal community activities run by neighbours, resident or tenant groups and local government.
“I have been extremely fortunate that the organic growth of Neighbour Day has been principally driven by strong and significant editorial coverage all year round in local, state and national media and through generous in-kind support,” Heslop said.
Heslop says that since 2003 Neighbour Day has had five principal aims –
1. Strengthen communities and build better relationships with the people who live around us.
2. Create safer, healthier and more vibrant suburbs and towns.
3. Promote tolerance, respect and understanding.
4. Break down community barriers.
5. Protect the elderly, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
Expressions of Interest outlining organisational capacity, a statement of commitment to community values and demonstrated experience and success in the management of national activities and/or events may be sent as follows –
a. By email to firstname.lastname@example.org
b. By mail to Neighbour Day, Post Office Box 968, Double Bay NSW 1360