Loving local

DO you know your neighbour?

Other than the quick wave over the fence, or that one time you borrowed a bowl of sugar, do you and your neighbour share a connection?

Street by Street WA coordinator Maureen Maher says befriending your neighbour could improve your mental health.

“Research has shown we have much better mental health when we feel part of our community,” she says.

“The rise of social media has meant people connect to phones and computers, but face-to-face connection is much better.”

To enhance community vibes in Fremantle, the city is collaborating with Street by Street and Know Your Nation to create the Garden Party Collective.

The Collective provides community members with the support they need to bring neighbours together during the working week, tackling loneliness and build a happier Fremantle.

“We’ve been working with the Fremantle community, doing workshops on how to run an event,” Ms Maher says.

“Sometimes people feel like they can’t pull people together, and they are anxious and nervous to put themselves out there, but once the invitation is out, people do want to come.”

• Revellers enjoy a Mediterrenean feast at Brennan Lane’s first garden party, which is designed to bring neighbourhoods together. Photo by Peter Spencer

Garden-themed

Workshops have finished and six garden-themed gatherings will be held in Freo neighbourhoods between now and May.

“The intention is the groups will continue to meet,” Ms Maher says.

The first garden party was held last week in Brennan Lane, with participants bringing a plate of Mediterranean food and a donation for St Pat’s shelter.

Organisers Skye Badger, Jocelyn Broderick and Dirima Cuthbert said it was a hoot.

“When we missed out on seats to the Fremantle High Street Long Table Dinner we decided to hold our own to celebrate our community and collect a little extra for St Patrick’s,” Ms Cuthbert told the Herald.

“We feel very privileged to live in this neighbourhood and the evening just confirmed how lucky we are.”

Ms Maher says she’s lived in the same street in Hilton for 22 years, but it wasn’t until she started organising Street by Street events, three years ago, that she got to know her neighbours.

“You feel safer, happier, the kids walk past and say hello,” she says.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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