Day 50 – Wednesday 19 August 2020 – Good Neighbours Schemes

Hello and welcome to Day 50 of Pray for Ryde. My name is Reverend Kerry Birch and I am the minister of Ryde Baptist Church. Today our theme is Good Neighbours Schemes.

Many of us will remember back to 1986 when a new Australian soap opera filmed in Melbourne became one of the BBC’s new daytime TV flagship programmes, peaking at over 21 million viewers. The Neighbours theme song became well known, with its lyrics ‘Neighbours, Everybody needs good neighbours’, and ‘Neighbours, Should be there for one another, That’s when good neighbours become good friends.’

We all have neighbours of one kind or another, good ones, difficult ones, ones we hardly see, and ones who have indeed become our friends. However much we think about our neighbours, it is important that we remember we are someone’s neighbour too. What kind of neighbour are we?

When the Pharisees once tried to trick Jesus by asking him which was the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22:34-40)

So today we pray for those schemes that encourage us to be good neighbours. At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak in mid-March, Ryde Town Council set up a local support hub in conjunction with various organisations to ensure the immediate needs of the most vulnerable were met. However, it is through the myriad networks of local neighbours and neighbourhoods that we can best ensure that fewer people slip through the net of care and support.

Age UK’s Good Neighbour Scheme builds on the strength of this idea, encouraging volunteers to offer low-level support to those most in need of a good neighbour. Suggested tasks neighbours perform include, befriending and visiting those who feel lonely or isolated, going on outings or shopping trips, transport for appointments, dog walking, small household chores, letter writing and household admin, encouragement and confidence building after illness or bereavement, and so on.

The other obvious scheme involving neighbours is Neighbourhood Watch, where the safety and security of the community is monitored and supported by neighbours looking out for each other in conjunction with the local authority and the police, with all the essential training and accountability to go with it. So we pray…

Lord, we thank you for our neighbours, those we know and those we do not know. Help us to get to know our neighbours better in appropriate ways, and to be able to support those who might be lonely or isolated. May we be good neighbours. We pray that nobody would be unable to reach out to a neighbour in their hour of need.

And we pray for those organisations, structures and schemes that encourage neighbourliness, volunteering through the Good Neighbours Schemes, Neighbourhood Watch, local volunteer networks, church communities or through clubs and friendship groups. May we be alert to needs, and may our sense of community be deepened.

May neighbours become good friends, right across Ryde. This we pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Please join us this evening at 7pm for our daily Zoom prayer meeting: