Take Part In Local Elections
The way to make a real impact in the way your community is run is to make sure you’re registered and vote in local elections. Gov.uk can help you find your local council, WhereDoIVote.co.uk will show you where your local polling station is, and WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk will give you your choices of who to vote for.
Look Out For Local Events
There’s no better way to get to know the locals than to head down to a local event and actually socialise with them. You’ll often find out what local events are happening in your area through the local paper or radio station, and many local papers now operate through Facebook, so you’re likely to find events on there. Not just that, but many places have community pages too, where upcoming events will be featured. Other than that, discount sites like Wowcher and Groupon will show you deals in your area, so you can get out there and experience everything your community has to offer, no matter what your budget.
Volunteer Your Time
There are so many ways to volunteer your time in the community. Perhaps you want a little side gig in your local charity shop, or fancy walking the dogs at the nearest pet shelter. Whatever you want to do, there’s plenty of ways to find out what’s about in your area. Sites like Do-It.org and NCVO.org.uk will show you the opportunities near you. And if you’re not based in England, Volunteer Scotland, Volunteering Wales, Jersey Charities and Guernsey Charities will help you out. And if you have kids that already have that giving spirit, then 16 and 17-year-olds can get involved with National Citizens Service.
If you’ve got items in your home you don’t want anymore, don’t throw them in the bin – see if you can repurpose them into your community. Donate clothes and household goods to your local charity shop, food to your nearest food bank, and books to local libraries or Oxfam bookshops. Some homeless shelters and women’s refuges may accept items such as unused bed linens and toiletries, but it’s best to check with them first.
Start shopping locally and you’ll not only see the benefit in your community, but also in yourself. Buying from local farmer’s markets not only supports local business, but the produce sold is often fresher and seasonal. Other great examples of local shopping include getting your fruit and veg from greengrocers, meat from local butchers, coffee from independent coffee shops and clothes from independent retailers in the area.
Join A Class
Whether you’re into drawing, fitness, learning languages, dancing or even knitting, there could be a class in your area where you can get involved with like-minded people. Again, check your local paper or community Facebook page for opportunities to find a new hobby. It’s often the case that local colleges will put on evening classes for certain activities, but sites like LoveLifeDrawing.com will show you the best arty spots and LanguageForFun.org will throw out where you can learn to be bilingual in your community.
Help With Your Local Park
Some areas in London, such as Hackney, let you get involved with your local park, from gardening to path building to even helping with local wildlife. It’s a great way to help improve local green spaces, whilst also keeping you active, meeting new people and making a visible difference to your area.
Join The Neighbourhood Watch
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Neighbourhood Watch groups join forces to prevent crime and vandalism where they live – and if one doesn’t exist in your area? Set one up with your neighbours. It’ll keep you safe and you’ll get to know the people who live around you.
Get Involved In Local Sports
There are always local sports teams you can get involved in – in fact, we wrote a piece on all the sports you can play in London not too long ago. This is a great way to get to know the people living in your community – and far healthier than getting to know people over drinks. For Londoners, sites like Go Mammoth and Get Active London are ideal for finding something in your hometown. While it can be tricky to find teams online for other areas of the country, Player Wanted can help with a limited number of sports types – otherwise a handy Google of the sport you want to play and your area will likely throw up some results. But if competitive sports aren’t your thing, then try a Fun Run – they happen all over the country and are a great way to start a Saturday morning.