Connecting neighbours was at the forefront of John McLean’s mind when he started thinking about building community networks in an Auckland neighbourhood.

The Red Cross refugee support volunteer had been supporting a family from Myanmar as they settled into their lives as new Kiwis when the idea came to him.

With John living around half an hour away on a good day in Auckland traffic, he recognised that neighbours had an important role to play in the resettlement process.

“I thought we should introduce the family to their neighbours and offered around an invitation for people to come and meet the family,” he says.

There was a positive response to the invitation and around 20 people showed up to the event. Many of the attendees had never met each other before, despite living in such close proximity.

The group shared food, drinks, and laughter while breaking down barriers.

“The street is quite a long one so the main breakthrough from the event was neighbours meeting neighbours,” says Mr McLean.

“It’s connected the community and created cooperation among residents. These sorts of events are important because it becomes not just a community, but also a place where people can live.”