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Almost one in three New Zealanders say they want to know their neighbours but feel they haven’t had the opportunity, according to new survey results.
The survey of the general public was commisioned by YMCA across Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and gathered responses from over 800 people about how they feel in their community.
While the majority of people feel safe and think their neighbourhood is friendly, 28 percent said they don’t feel connected or a sense of belonging.
YMCA’s new CEO Julian Baldey says these are statistics the 163 year old organisation is actively trying to change.
“Connectedness in communities is especially important with the growing diversity of our population, and it’s something the YMCA fosters through our community programmes,” says Baldey.
The not-for-profit’s mission is to foster strong kids, families and communities, and it’s a mission Baldey is right behind.
“In my work and also as a family man, its important to me that our kids grow up with a sense of community and appreciation for diversity,” says Baldey.
In 2016, a New Zealand General Social Survey found that over a month period more than 650,000 people aged 15 years or older felt lonely.
“Meeting new people and building a network of friends can seem daunting. This is where organisations like ours can help,” says Baldey.
To help foster a sense of local community, YMCA runs a number of programmes, initiatives and events for all ages, from babies through to seniors.
One of those events is the Albert-Eden Schools Cultural Festival which was held at the weekend (November 17th). Featuring cultural dance performances by children from 17 local schools and food stalls, it’s a bonafide melting pot of cultural diversity with everything from Pacifica to Bollywood and Mexican culture.
“It’s an important event to bring people together and showcase how some communities really can get it right when it comes to unity,” says Baldey.
Alongside a packed schedule of cultural dance, the festival delivered a colourful variety of food stalls and this year drew around 8,000 people from Mt Albert and neighbouring communities.