Basics neighbourhood help

An elderly man stands smiling at a garden gate.
Picture credit: © Janina Dierks /

You can choose good friends – but not an efficiently functioning neighbourhood. But you have to nurture both, particularly if you want to benefit from this social cohesion in old age. If you need support, e.g. in the household or for heavy gardening work, or if you want to make a contribution yourself in order to help others, for instance by supervising children’s homework, then neighbours are often the first people who can provide help or could do with help themselves.

Apart from the kind of mutual assistance that just happens, initiative groups and societies in many places are committed to supporting people in need of help and care. Their members pay visits, and many offer assistance in the household. Offers of this kind are to be found in church parishes or at welfare associations, sometimes also at housing companies and often as self-organised neighbourhood initiatives. The municipal or local administration and the contact points for civic commitment can tell you where there are opportunities to make a contribution in a residential area: volunteer agencies, senior citizens’ offices, multi-generational homes. To most voluntary helpers, their commitment is a meaningful task that they find personally satisfying and that offers them new social contacts and experiences. They sometimes receive financial recognition in the form of an expense allowance or as a little extra income. At all events, this kind of voluntary commitment is enriching, particularly for people who are already older themselves, but still fit: volunteering helps people to stay active and participate in social life.


Further useful tips on creating an organised neighbourhood are available from the Neighbourhood Network organisation on the Internet at

Tips for neighbourhood help

Sometimes, it’s just little things that strengthen the network between neighbours, turning polite co-existence into helping cooperation. Neighbourhood initiatives promote contacts and encounters, strengthen local cooperation, enable civic commitment and participation, provide mutual help and support. Very important: trust and common interests are the basis for good neighbourliness.

A chat on the stairs or by the garden fence, an invitation to a barbecue – little things like that are the necessary prerequisites for a neighbourhood that works, even if you need a bigger favour or regular assistance. You can put many ideas into practice yourself – some take a bit of effort, others hardly any at all.