About 6 months ago, my family and I were considering buying our first home. Being new to London, we weren’t sure what to expect. What we did know was our priority was to find a safe, nurturing community for our children to grow up in. We worked with our realtor and did a lot of searching online before finding the best location for us. Once the deal was finalized, we started the process of moving in.

Our first week in the new house was hectic, organizing furniture, cleaning, and learning about the area. One day while I was outside with the kids, one of our neighbours approached me with a big smile. He introduced himself and told me that he was the Area Coordinator for our Neighbourhood Watch community. I had heard of Neighbourhood Watch before, but didn’t know much about the program. He explained that he could be our point of contact in the event we notice anything suspicious in the area, if we’ll be going away for any extended time, or if we had any general questions about community events or goings on. He brought over a map of the neighbourhood and showed me all the houses that were part of our watch area. It was great to have that feeling of a tight-knit community, where safety and involvement are a priority. Our Area Coordinator then invited us to a little neighbourhood get together to meet some of the neighbours. What a warm welcome!

On a sunny Saturday in September, we wrangled up the kids in the wagon, and headed over to a crescent on our block. There were about 25 people, games and activities for the kids, and a pot luck table with lots of goodies. We spent time meeting each other, talking about what we do for work, where we came from, and how we came to live in this neighbourhood. We met people from as far away as Australia, and others who were born and raised in London. We met a photographer, a make-up artist, an accountant, a dietitian, and a stay at home mom. We learned about the school in the area, and about some great child care options just up the street. We even learned about a little ice cream shop that we didn’t know existed, but has now turned into one of our favourite after-dinner treat adventures. We sang songs, ate good food, and enjoyed the company of those that live so close to us. There were so many different people, but one thing that was the same for all of us was our smiles and genuine joy of being part of an inclusive community.

I provided our Area Coordinator with my e-mail address, and he sends me updates on any activities in the neighbourhood. This can include break and enters, car thefts, arrests made in the area, vandalism, or other criminal activity. He also e-mails me if there are any community activities that we can be part of, like our annual neighbourhood movie night. What a great feeling to be able to walk down my street, recognize faces, and say hello to new friends. It’s nice to know that your neighbours are looking out for you and your property, and that you have people close by you can trust. Being part of a Neighbourhood Watch community has made my new house feel like a home for me and my family.