Neighbours are finding brilliant ways to stay in touch while keeping at least two metres apart during coronavirus restrictions.

Suffolk has shown tremendous spirit with neighbourly gestures to help each other get through difficult circumstances presented by ‘stay-at-home’ guidance.

One idea keeping neighbours connected while social distancing saw the removal of a fence panel in Lyndsey Simpson’s Great Cornard garden, keeping her in touch with Eddie, her normally very active neighbour who is aged in his late 80s.

The idea has been shared online via Community Action Suffolk’s (CAS) Good Neighbour Scheme network and the Rural Coffee Caravan’s ‘Cascade of Kindness’ Facebook group using hashtags like #backyardbuddies.

Rural Coffee Caravan chief executive, Ann Osborne said social connection at this time was of paramount importance for mental, physical and emotional health, adding: “Taking down a fence panel or lowering a hedge gives us the chance for neighbourly interaction even at a two-metre distance.

“Our Coffee Caravan experiences have shown us that too many of us don’t know our neighbours really well – it’s the reason we actively promote the Good Neighbour Scheme – so we are all for this idea, as it is another way to bring about stronger bonds that continue on when this is behind us.”

Sally Connick, of CAS, said: “We take great pride in working with residents to find solutions that build on neighbourliness and connection and have proudly supported the Rural Coffee Caravan with Meet Up Mondays, as well as co-ordinating the network of Good Neighbour Schemes in Suffolk.

“These schemes have been providing a lifeline to people who may be alone or feeling isolated by offering friendship and help to those in need and we often find that the simplest of ideas make the biggest difference.

“A wonderful example of this is the temporary removal of a fence panel to your next door neighbour, instantly releasing someone from the cocoon of their garden.

“It is important that every one of us follows the government guidelines on distancing and keeps at least two meters apart.

“However, we can still be social. These small everyday interactions can make all the difference to someone feeling alone and isolated and help them through the weeks of self-isolating.”

Other people have come up with ideas to keep in touch with neighbours while maintaining a safe distance, including ‘Driveway Drinks’, also billed as a ‘physically distant community non-gathering’, each Sunday evening.

This newspaper is teaming up with key organisations in Suffolk to help mobilise an army of volunteers in the weeks and months ahead.

Our ‘Home, But Not Alone’ campaign aims to ensure those left isolated for up to 12 weeks still get the support, companionship and practical help they need.We’ve teamed up with Suffolk County Council, Community Action Suffolk, Suffolk Community Foundation and the Suffolk Association of Local Councils to launch this campaign.We want to build on the existing networks, encourage more people to sign up as volunteers, and develop their own community schemes – helping people with everyday tasks.You can find out more about volunteering here.

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