It all started the day after the referendum. A few of us were concerned that families around Galleywood were divided, not speaking to one another because someone was “in” and someone else was “out”.
And then there was the hate crime. A shopkeeper racially abused and threatened, a local resident of Sri Lankan descent shouted at to “go home”, a couple made up of one white and one south Asian partner told in the street that someone “disapproved”. This is not who Galleywood is, and we wanted to say so very publicly.
But it quickly moved further. As a village, we are no longer “innies” or “outies” – we are WITH one another, whatever our voting choices, heritage, politics, faith or social groupings. We wanted to do something that would bring the community together.
So we went to the parish church and the parish council, both of whom were very supportive and very quick to react, and in 24 hours we got the blessing of both to put a plan together. There was a facebook campaign (just search for love your neighbour Galleywood). The schools got behind the campaign, and the Junior School made it the theme for their end of term service. There were five tips for loving your neighbour:
Smile: Smile and say hello to someone
Connect: Introduce yourself to some of your neighbours
Reach out: Buy a gift or make some food and give it to someone you don't know well.
Bridge the gap: Invite someone of a different generation. It could be to an event or just for a cup of tea.
Pay it forward: Think of a random act of kindness to do every day. This could be anything from giving a compliment to anonymously paying a bill for someone.
Soon, people were making pledges and posting pictures of themselves online doing so.
On Sunday July 24, we held the love your neighbour Galleywood tea in the park event this afternoon. We decorated biscuits, played cricket, made more pledges to be kind, brought racing cars (how cool is that!), had makeovers and glitter tattoos and met each other. And if you've ever wondered how many community leaders it takes to put up a gazebo, we are the people to answer the question. We LITERALLY introduced next-door neighbours at one point - people who live next to each other but didn't know each other till tea in the park. Councillor Anthony McQuiggan spoke without mentioning politics, and Canon Andy Griffiths spoke without mentioning church! Total attendance was around 200, with all generations represented. Thank you – and please keep aware of Love your Neighbour Galleywood as the campaign continues!
The Love Your Neighbour Galleywood Team: Rev Gemma Fraser, Cllr Anthony McQuiggan, Cllr Graham Nichols and Canon Andy Griffiths