It can be daunting and lonely moving to a new area. When you don’t know anyone, you feel less safe and less likely to trust people around you. But what makes residents feel safer? Is it having more security cameras? Is it having large fences and locked gates?
It’s something that is far more intrinsic, something that can’t be seen, but we all rely on it – that something is social cohesion.
And there’s research to prove it too. A study titled “Associations between Perceived Social Environment and Neighbourhood Safety” found that “residents who reported higher levels of social cohesion perceived their neighbourhood as safer compared to residents who reported lower levels of social cohesion”. Conversely, less connected neighbourhoods, where people are disconnected, show higher levels of fear.
Lack of neighbourhood cohesion is a recurring theme across the literature. Research indicates that feelings of fear are closely aligned with shifting populations and the existence of new social groups, such as those in new estates.
Social bonds between neighbours bring pleasure in themselves, we all know this, we feel it too. We know that these connections have a protective dimension to them also – one that helps us cope with the day-to-day stresses of life but also one that makes us feel safer in our neighbourhood.
We understand how new residents feel. Since 1983, Neighbourhood Watch Victoria has been helping residents connect and create local communities Armed with this knowledge, and more than 38 years of experience, Neighbourhood Watch has been helping residents to form social connections and develop strong and safe neighbourhoods.