Student Katherine Wratten
When times are hard, turn to your neighbour for help, urges student
A GOOD neighbour network, described as the antidote to New Year “recessional gloom”, is being launched in Highbury by a 25-year-old university student.
The bold idea aims to bring together people who may be facing the hardships of old age, unemployment and financial insecurity.
Katherine Wratten, a former public relations worker now back at university studying psychology, is behind the scheme.
“I suppose it’s a bit dreamy, but I think it would be nice if everyone got to know their neighbours,” she said. “This is a time when we should all help each other.”
Katherine, who lives in Blackstock Road, near Highbury Park, is holding a Celebrate Your Neighbour meeting at St of Arc Church on Tuesday.
“There are too many people on their own, particularly the elderly, who may no longer know who their neighbours are,” she said. “A lot of it is fear. I want to break down barriers and get people looking after each other.”
She described how recently she spoke properly for the first time to her neighbours, who run a shop downstairs. “Our boiler had broken down one weekend,” she said. “It was freezing cold but we couldn’t afford to get a plumber out. We were without hot water and heat.
“I just happened to mention it to the people in the shop. The next thing I knew they had contacted a relative down the road who was plumber and was able to come and fix the boiler. We were so very grateful.
“It just shows you that neighbours can be very helpful. You’ve just got to get to know them.”
She’s hoping businesses and volunteers will help plan for a Celebrate Your Neighbour Day on February 7 by printing and putting up posters.
Barnsbury-based Catholic Dean of Islington Father Jim Kennedy has welcomed the venture.
“It is an excellent idea and one I hope will be duplicated across the borough,” said Father Kennedy, of Blessed Sacrament Church in Copenhagen Street.
“We’re already seeing a lot of unemployment – people are losing jobs almost by the hour. Firms are going out of business and it’s getting very tough.
“Everyone should be looking out for a neighbour, particularly if they are aware they are isolated and on their own. Our church can offer not just spiritual support but we have an advice centre opened during Thursdays from 10am to noon.”
The Celebrate Your Neighbour Day planning meeting is at 6.30pm on Tuesday at The Hall, St Joan of Arc, 60 Highbury Park. For more details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org