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During the past year, we’ve all needed the support of a good neighbour. And it’s thanks to Co-op Members like you that we’ve crowned some of the UK’s best neighbours for the third year running.
We know that many kind-hearted people offered a helping hand to those most in need during a difficult 2020. So, in partnership with Neighbourhood Watch, we asked Co-op Members to get involved and nominate that special someone in their local community who has been going above and beyond, as we looked to celebrate some of those amazing acts of neighbourliness.
We caught up with Co-op Members Emma Haslam and Lesley Michie to find out why they decided to nominate their good neighbour for an award.
Easy to get involved
Having seen the opportunity in her monthly members’ join in email, Emma, from Bexley Heath, welcomed the chance to nominate her mum, Hilary, simply by clicking on a link.
“It’s lovely that the Co-op are so keen to involve local people in their initiatives like this,” she says.
“Co-op stores are always such friendly shops with brilliant community spirit and where the staff know their customers. This is reflected in these opportunities.
“Since Hilary is always in our local Co-op – and well known in the store – it was an even better reason to get involved.”
Offers of help
Describing her as a pillar of the community and an amazing neighbour, Emma says Hilary, who is also a Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator, is always the first to volunteer her time to help others – even in a pandemic.
“She has shopped for them and collected and delivered prescriptions and parcels. Hilary has also cooked and delivered daily meals to one neighbour who was unable to do so for herself.”
Hilary helped lift community spirits by organising VE Day celebrations in her street, and also provided a variety of arts and crafts activities, a library-style book club for a neighbour’s young children and painted stones they could add to a community hide and seek game in the local woods.
Emma was surprised and proud when she heard Hilary had been crowned the South East Neighbour of the Year.
“It’s been a tough year for a lot of people, and I had no doubt there would be many unsung heroes who had gone over and above to help their communities, but Hilary definitely deserved a nomination, and the judges clearly agreed,” she says.
Hilary, a retired former teaching assistant, says she was honoured to be chosen as an award winner.
“I’ve always helped out in the community,” she says. “I’ve been here for 40 years, and I’ve seen a lot of generations. I always love seeing someone around that I know.”
Bringing people together
As soon as Lesley, from Aberdeen, heard about Scotland’s Neighbour of the Year award she decided to nominate her neighbour, Nicky Jenkins.
“I thought that Nicky would stand out from the other nominations as her story is so unique,” she says.
During the first national lockdown in March 2020, Nicky decided to involve neighbours in a weekly, fun-filled dance routine when putting out the bins. She made costumes and street decorations and suggested making donations to a local foodbank too.
“This brought us together as a community and provided us with something fun to focus on during lockdown,” explains Lesley.
“Friendships were made, a strong community spirit followed, and we raised over £2,000.”
Inspired by lockdown boredom
Nicky, who works as a temporary postwoman, says boredom during lockdown was the inspiration behind her dance routines.
“I can’t believe the social media traction we got, just from putting the bins out,” she says.
““I’m a loyal member of the Co-op. I’ve done all my shopping during COVID at our local shop. I’m lucky to live on a great street. The community has been so important for me.”
Overwhelmingly, 2020 was a record-breaking year for Neighbour of the Year nominations, with 850 entries received – a massive 125% increase compared to 2019.
It’s been fantastic to see so many of our Co-op Members and customers getting involved to tell us all about the great neighbourly activities and acts of kindness that have been happening in their local areas.
It’s thanks to you that we’ve been able to recognise some of the local heroes lending a hand in our communities.
There are always ways for you to get involved with your Co-op. Head to your member account to see what opportunities are currently available.
Managing Director of Insurance