We’re all about the community here. We build online and offline communities for Bushmills Irish Whiskey, we’re active in our own community through our volunteering programme and we engage with thousands of communities across the UK each year through our work with Amazon.
Our office manager Vicci loves the community where she comes from, so she decided to write a little something about the importance of community spirit.
I have spent my whole life in the lovely seaside town of Bangor. I absolutely loved growing up here and want my children to experience what I did; the beautiful seaside walks, summers on the beach and, most of all, the fantastic community I have grown up in and continue to be a part of.
I always believed everyone’s upbringing was just like mine and that as you walked down the street, or popped into the local shop, you would know all the people you met by first name and have a chat about the family.
However, as I have got older and met a variety of people from different places and backgrounds, I have started to think that I might be in the minority. A lot of friends and family have said they would not consider where they live to have a strong community spirit and some don’t see a need to be a part of their community at all. On hearing statements such as these, I decided to delve a little deeper and found it does seem community spirit is in decline.
According to research carried out by Skipton building society more than 50% of British people never say a word to their next door neighbour and 68% would actually describe them as a stranger.
One of the reasons for this, which is repeatedly suggested, is our increased use of technology. We are now an almost cashless society, we no longer need to visit our local bank to complete transactions and we can book holidays without travel agents. Our integration with the local community is no longer a necessity and with our increasingly busy lives, we are of course going to use the quickest and easiest options available.
Along with this, a lot of our community interactions have also moved online. We now have a plethora of forums to avail and become a part of for any type of hobby or interest. These are propelled by social networking sites, where we can also communicate with friends, family and colleagues alike. I have relied heavily on many of these myself and have joined weight loss, exercise and mum groups galore. In hindsight this has meant I have missed out on those ‘real life’ community groups that we previously would have relied on like weight loss groups, keep fit classes and mums and tots.
I am not unrealistic. Moving a lot of what we do online has benefited us all and I personally love the benefits it brings. Information is now at our fingertips and we have access to resources we never had before. However, I believe there is a healthy balance we should try to strike, by using technology not to the detriment of our communities, but instead to compliment them.
An amazing example of this was when the BBC programme DIY SOS came to Bangor recently. An appeal was made across social media for local tradesmen and suppliers to donate materials and time to help create a functional and beautiful home for a local family who needed the help and support of their community. On the first day of registration the e-mail system went down due to the number of people getting in touch to offer their time and support for the family. The Big Build took place in June and my husband was privileged enough to be able to take part. He said that the sense of community, determination and work ethic of everyone involved was second to none and it was an amazing team to be a part of.
A perfect example of using technology to bring a community together for the better.
In the words of John Donne, ‘no man is an island’, we need the comfort and compassion of others and our communities around us to thrive. So let's not make the mistake of letting our communities go and only realising their worth once they are no longer there.