Climate-related impacts to mental health and wellbeing are well-documented, with eco-grief and anxiety increasing in prevalence and severity. Social isolation and feeling disconnected from the surrounding social environment can be exacerbated both by climatic impacts, but also by building and community design. Enhanced social connectedness not only improves mental health, it can help in improving disaster preparedness at the community level. Hey Neighbour seeks to increase social connections in rental multi-unit buildings: the “Hey Neighbour” pilot. The approach involved resident animators (RAs) to engage other residents in the building and explore ways they can enlist their socio-cultural assets to help foster neighbourliness. Intergenerational residents paired up in each building, and received support from the project coordinator. Other key actors involved in the pilot project aside from the project team include residents, and property management staff.
Hey Neighbour! Is a resident-led initiative within the City of Vancouver, which is aimed at increasing social connectedness, neighbourliness, and resilience in multi-unit buildings. This is achieved by encouraging residents to get to know each other through activities organized by resident animators (RA). The program highlights the impact that increased sociability can have on the mental and physical health of the residents, and the role that municipalities, residents, and the housing industry can play in cultivating these connections. RA’s initiate events like board-game nights, potlucks, walking clubs, emergency preparedness workshops, skill shares, and more to bring neighbours together. Hey Neighbour has since morphed into a Community of Practice/collective of organizations interested in learning about how to establish more sociability in multi-family buildings and is housed at Simon Fraser University (SFU).