THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

'Kiwis Loose Touch With Their Neighbours' was the New Zealand Herald's take out from the recently released Sovereign Wellness Index Survey.

Only 4% of New Zealanders agreed they felt close to people in their local area.

It's not that we don't want to know our neighbours. The 2014 Neighbourly Survey highlighted 85% saying we want to connect with our neighbours.

Here's one way of tackling the problem:

Four years ago the Clevedon Presbyterian church community canvassed interest in holding an intercultural luncheon. A staggering 5,000 Chinese replied 'yes'.

So every Tuesday about twenty are bussed in from across Auckland to sit down and share lunch with local volunteers. Many have followed their children here. Some have been here for less than three months, some up to twelve years. This is often the first time in this country that they have been invited to a Western meal. Many have never used knives and forks, nor are they familiar with our dining etiquette. Volunteers guide them through a meal. There are lots of laughs. People talk about who they are and why they are here.

The waiting list to participate keeps growing exponentially and now includes different ethnicities.  Sharing stories over food is an ideal opportunity to get to know your neighbours. Everyone has a story.

Let's all be that kind stranger, that welcoming community.