Nicky Jenkins, 62, has been crowned Scotland’s Neighbour of the Year 2020, as part of Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch’s search for the UK’s best neighbours.
Nicky was crowned the winner for her efforts in organising ‘Binz Oot’ dance routines during lockdown, where the community were encouraged to take out their bins out in a fun and unique way. The eight performances of ‘Binz Oot’ raised over £2,000 for foodbanks in the local area and Nicky is organising a Christmas special, which she hopes will make an extra £1,000.
Nicky’s neighbour, Lesley Michie, who nominated her for the award, said: “I will never be able to thank Nicky enough for the wonderful community support that we’ve seen this year. Friendships have been made that just wouldn't have happened before all this. She inspired us all in so many ways and without her, we would never all have come together like this.”
Nicky Jenkins, Aberdeen Neighbour of the Year, said: “The community has been so important for me. I was dreaming of moving away to the countryside, but now I don’t want to. It would take a lot to give up the warmth of being here.”
Meanwhile, 9-year-old Taylor O’Connor, from Edinburgh, has been crowned the Co-op’s first ever Young Neighbour of the Year. Taylor was nominated by her neighbour Yvonne Cuthill for supporting her while she went through cancer treatment during lockdown. Taylor has helped Yvonne by taking her dogs out when she has been unwell, baking cakes, hanging the washing out and making flasks of tea.
Taylor was also recognised for supporting her wider community during lockdown where she regularly collected rubbish on the street, put out her neighbour’s bins and took in their parcels.
Taylor’s neighbour, Yvonne Cuthill, said: “She is a loving caring young lady and very respectful to her elders and neighbours. Taylor uses FaceTime to message us every day, to check we are ok – that is unheard of from a girl her age and that’s why I think she is fully deserving of the Young Neighbour of the Year award.”
Taylor O’Connor, Edinburgh, Neighbour of the Year, said: “It’s very important to have neighbours. I can still see them even if I can’t go close. I just want to help local people.”
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 Nicky and Taylor – they’re an excellent reminder that there are those on our doorsteps who need us more than ever. All the judges agreed that they were worthy winners of the Scotland 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 Nicky and Taylor 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 (83%) of adults in Scotland said they knew which of their neighbours was classed as high risk. Scotland was revealed as the most neighbourly place to live back in April, with over two fifths (43%) checking in on their neighbours, more than anywhere else in the UK.
After seven months of pandemic restrictions, this figure has seen a dramatic fall, with only a quarter (25%) of adults in the Scotland revealing they know which of their neighbours are at risk.
“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.”