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everybody needs good neighbours

It’s a bit of a thing in London that people don’t know their neighbours very well. In fact, only 32%* of people know their nearest neighbour’s names, and only 19%* would call them friends. 

We think that’s a big shame because research shows that strong neighbourhood networks can have a significant impact on quality of life. Knowing people in your local community reduces isolation and increases a sense of belonging, as well as more practical things like providing reliable informal childcare and security for your house when you’re on holiday. There is also evidence that knowing your neighbours is linked to lower levels of crime, and improved educational achievement and health.

We’ve been knocking about in West London since we started up in 1999 (we launched from a tiny office about 400 yards down the road from where we are now) so W10 has always been our home. It’s changed a lot over the last 18 years, so we thought it would be good to make sure we’re still connected with with our neighbours. We also wanted to change people’s perceptions around connecting with their own neighbours, and make it easier for them to strike up a chat.

So last week we sent out a little pack to all of our closest neighbours. It looked like this:

It encouraged people to drop a note to their own neighbours and pop into Fruit Towers for a smoothie (or two). We’ve already had a lovely man called Lee drop in (he dressed up for the occasion), and we hope more of our neighbours take us up on the offer.

If you’ve got any neighbourly insights to share, or want to find out more about the project, drop us an email at howdyneighbour@innocentdrinks.com and we'll be sure to help you spread the neighbourly good cheer.

*YouGov, 2013

meet the knitters: linda and sue

The other day we heard from Linda who, along with her sister Sue, have knitted an amazing 1935 hats in memory of their mum, Sheila.

Anyone who knits 2,000 hats for charity is already amazing in our book, but Linda and Sue’s reason for knitting over the last year is pretty special. Their mum Sheila was already a regular knitter and taught both Linda and Sue how to knit when they were little. They’d even taken part in the first few years of the Big Knit back when we started it up in 2003.

In 2015, while Sheila was in hospital, the three of them knitted little hats together before Sheila sadly passed away. As Sheila was born in 1935, Linda and Sue decided that they’d like to knit, completely unaided, 1935 of the little hats the three of them had always enjoyed knitting together.

Linda, Sue and Sheila, thank you for all the hats you’ve knitted over the years. We are hugely grateful and the Big Knit simply wouldn’t work without the help of great people like you. Thank you.

someone's watching us

Here in Fruit Towers there’s an argument, mostly made by people who sit on the fourth floor, that the fourth floor is the best. They’ll also argue that the best seats in the entire building are on the corner desk next to the big window. This is the view from the big window.

Granted, on a grey day like this it's not the best, but in the summer it's something else. The blue skies, the sunshine, the people having fun on the canal, and let's forget the regular duckling sightings. Yep, in the summer there’s definitely a case to be made for it being the best seat in the building. If anyone sat there gets stuck on a problem they can just turn and look outside at the view for a few minutes to think it through.

But recently we’ve noticed something from this window to bring its status down a tad. Something odd. For you see, there under the converted water tower, we think someone’s watching us.

Someone’s there, peeking out from behind the pipes. Either that or our brains are taking the parts that no doubt make up the plumbing system of the flats above and twisting them into the shape of a person.  And yet, every time we look outside, for half a second we see a person looking back.

From our side, seeing the outline of someone staring back is only the start of our worries. We're more concerned that one day we’ll look outside and it'll be gone.