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Helping with heart and hand

AN attempt to reignite neighbourhood connections and assist those in need has turned out to be a bigger blessing than
the Combined Churches of Townsville realised.

Neighbour 2 Neighbour (N2N), their National Day of Thanksgiving activity held on 18 June last year has now gone on to become more of a way of life than a one-day event and won a Spirit of Townsville Award on Australia Day this year.

Matthew Bolte, N2N coordinator for The Combined Churches of Townsville, said it is a way the churches can reach out to a community in need.

Townsville City Council, through their community support data base and through a letter from the Mayor, connected members of the Combined Churches of Townsville and community groups with people in need of a helping hand.

On 18 June, teams of volunteers from went into these homes to lend a hand.

“Just basic stuff like cleaning the bathroom, tidying the yard, mowing the lawn, vacuuming the carpets, or sitting and having a chat over a cuppa,” he said.

“We were amazed by the overwhelming response to the letter offering help from the Combined Churches of Townsville.

“We have received requests for help from over 450 homes.

“Most were elderly and deeply moved that someone would come and help them,” he said.

An army of volunteers (420 in total) from 43 different churches and community organisations, including Rotary, Lions, and the tax office, helped on the day.

The need for ongoing assistance was obvious.

“We have all been amazed by the community support that has bubbled up after the floods and cyclones in this State,” said Mr Bolte.

“The sad part is that it is obvious that we have lost something in our communities that only disasters bring out.

“What if caring for your neighbour wasn’t just a disaster response but an everyday practice?

“To this end the Combined Churches of Townsville and community organisations are working with the Townsville City Council to build community capital in fostering and modelling caring for our neighbours.

“We are working toward making neighbourliness an everyday practice in Townsville.”

“We may need to run this several times a year for several years to create a habit of helping your neighbour.

“This then becomes a grassroots network of care and support for those in need,” said Mr Bolte.

Townsville City Council Mayor, Cr Les Tyrell OAM said he was proud of the work of the city’s churches.

“What the churches do in this city is the envy of other Queensland Councils.”

The next N2N event will be held in May this year.

For more information or to register for help or to volunteer visit www.n2n.churchin.org.au