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Many residents are willing and able to help the vulnerable members of their community. Local governments and organisations offer support and structure in the form of volunteering programmes, making it easier for people to fall back on a support network.

A neighbourhood-oriented volunteering programme is more efficient, has more impact and also has positive side effects for the local community. We – as pro-neighbourhood advocates – share five reasons why the neighbourhood level is the perfect breeding ground for volunteering.

#1 Proximity of local residents

If the person asking for help and the person providing the help live close to each other, the investment of time, energy and perhaps fuel is smaller. ‘Whether I can quickly pick up a package or an errand today? Why not, it's just around the corner.’

#2 High involvement

Engagement at the neighbourhood level is higher than at the city or district level. If someone believes that they can make a difference in their immediate living environment, the willingness to help will be all the greater.

#3 Recognition and trust

Even when help requester and provider do not know each other by sight (although in this case, the chance is much greater), the shared context of the neighbourhood offers some form of recognition. It is a small piece of shared identity that gives you the feeling of already knowing someone a little.

Neighbours also often share some reference points, such as people, places or events. These are good icebreakers and create an initial basis of trust.

#4 Tap into the neighbourhood network

Every neighbourhood has a wealth of social capital that can be used outside volunteer work. Think of information, talents, ideas, … But not everyone has access to this neighbourhood network (to the same extent).

Sometimes one good link of an isolated person to the neighbourhood network is enough to get (more) access. The volunteer can bring an isolated person in contact with another local resident, a local organisation or the Hoplr neighbourhood, based on their needs.

#5 Contribution to neighbourhood feeling

Every positive exchange in the context of the neighbourhood contributes to a positive neighbourhood feeling. Not only for those directly involved but for all witnesses. It can be both fun and rewarding to publicly give kudos to volunteers within the neighbourhood. A neighbourhood where residents dedicate themselves to vulnerable members? Residents are certainly proud to be part of that.

Hoplr and volunteering

This article is the first part of a three-part series on volunteering. Soon, we will also publish a piece on counteracting hesitation to ask for help, as well as matchmaking between supply and demand. Keep an eye on our channels for the continuation!

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