Alice Taylor-Rugman, 53, from Waltham Forest, has been crowned the London’s Neighbour of the Year 2020, as part of Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch’s search for the UK’s best neighbours.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alice set up a WhatsApp group so that neighbours could stay connected whilst staying in their homes. The WhatsApp group has been a much-needed community tool and has seen CCTV footage shared and allowed those having to shield to ask for assistance from their neighbours.
Alice has come to the forefront of her community by organising meetings for people on the road to discuss any issues and liaising with her local council to organise street “clean ups”.
Alice’s neighbour, Rachel Craven, who nominated her for the award, said: “Alice has been the main driver of generating community spirit in our street. She looks out for older neighbours, picks litter, and raised funds for a beautiful mural. I’ve lived in London for 15 years now and, thanks to Alice, I know my neighbours for the first time. During lockdown, Alice organised groceries for people and supported neighbours who were shielding. Alice is awesome but very unassuming. She never does anything for recognition – that’s why she’s truly deserves this award.”
Alice Taylor-Rugman, London’s Neighbour of the Year 2020, said: “I have moved around quite a lot and made friends everywhere we have lived, but it’s special here and I’m proud be a part of this community. If you want to see something happen in your local area, you’ve got to go out and create it. The rewards far outweigh the investment.
“Our community has been invaluable to me during the pandemic, my husband and live alone with our cat but we only have to step out of the front door and there is always the opportunity for a natter. Our neighbours have definitely helped us stay connected and maintain a sense of normality.”
The Neighbour of the Year award celebrates neighbours who look out for others, are sociable and friendly, offer practical help and are kind, caring and respectful. In its third year, the number of entries increased by a staggering 100 percent from 2019.
Ellis German, Home Insurance Executive at Co-op Insurance said: “We’re so proud of Alice – she’s an excellent reminder that there are those on our doorsteps who need us more than ever. All the judges agreed that he was the worthy winner of London’s Neighbour of the Year 2020 award.”
This year the awards are being back by actress Catherine Tyldesley, who played Eva Price in Coronation Street, who said: “It’s heartening to see that neighbours like Alice exist and are being recognised for the great work they’re doing to create communities where everyone feels safe and part of something.”
This year’s winners are announced as new data from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch warns that the surge in neighbourliness seen in the Spring hasn’t been sustained, as pandemic fatigue sets in across the UK.
During the peak of the first national lockdown in April, data from Co-op showed a spike in neighbourliness, with almost three quarters (74%) of adults in London said they knew which of their neighbours was classed as high risk.
After seven months of pandemic restrictions, this figure has seen a dramatic fall, with just over a quarter (28%) of adults in London revealing they know which of their neighbours are at risk.
Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch are calling on people throughout the UK to reconnect with neighbours this winter to help start building back better in local communities.
“With the Co-op, we really urge everyone to be as supportive of each other as possible and be truly vigilant. It will be a very challenging Christmas for so many of us.”
Ellis added: “Our latest research is cause for concern as we start to see neighbourliness plateau. The length of time of the pandemic, the personal impact on everyday lives and the shorter days and colder weather are all key reasons for why we’re seeing this.
“We’re urging people to band together and keep up neighbourly spirits this winter, especially with neighbours who are vulnerable or alone, whether that’s by having a friendly chat over the garden fence, checking in to see if they need food or medicine dropping off or by keeping in touch online.”