During the summer, Housing Executive staff and members of its Housing Community Network nominated tenants who have made a difference in
communities all over Northern Ireland. After receiving dozens of nominations, the housing body chose Blair, Sasha and John as their ‘Good Neighbours’ in the Mid & East Antrim council area.
Blair has lived in her home in Broughshane with her young family for the last two years and works for the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.
She is passionate about empowering young people to make a positive contribution to their community and ensures that they have opportunities to share their views with the Housing Executive.
After finding out that she was chosen as one of the Housing Executive’s Good Neighbours, Blair said: “I like living on my estate because everyone is so friendly and wants to come over to have a chat with you.
“Honestly it’s like a family and I really appreciate how supportive my neighbours are.
“Young people are often unfairly judged by their neighbours, as people assume that they will want to have lots of noisy parties or participate in anti-social behaviour. As a young person myself I know how difficult it can be to overcome those stereotypes and that’s why I’m delighted to be recognised as a good neighbour.”
Sasha, who lives on Skye Park in Ballymena, was also chosen as one of the Housing Executive’s Good Neighbours. She has lived there for 33 years and, as a member of Ballykeel 2 & District Community Association, she’s the go-to person in her area.
She said: “We set up the community group as residents wanted to help vulnerable people living on the estate and it’s gone from strength to strength. Everyone here is so generous and willing to give up their time to support each other, this is why living here is so special.
“I’ve grew up here and raised my own family in Skye Park so it means a lot to be thanked by the Housing Executive for being a good neighbour.”
The final Good Neighbour for the Mid & East Antrim area was John Wilson, who has lived in Ahoghill with his wife for three years. He is a member of the multi award- winning Ahoghill in Bloom and, alongside other volunteers, has created beautiful floral displays in the village. He said: “I really enjoy being part of the Ahoghill in Bloom team. We’re always busy planting, weeding and keeping everything tidy for everyone in the village. I try to do what I can to help my neighbours, whether that’s putting out their bins or checking to see if they need anything from the shop. It’s those small things that make a difference.
“Being a good neighbour means a lot to me as it’s something that my mother felt very strongly about, and I think I’ve learned how important it is to look out for each other from her.”
Mairead Myles Davey, the Housing Executive’s Mid & East Antrim Area Manager, explained why the Good Neighbours make Great Neighbourhoods campaign is important: “Our estates are full of phenomenal people who make living in their community so special. This is why, as part of our 50 th birthday celebrations, we are recognising them through this campaign.
“The coronavirus pandemic has made us see that good neighbours are more important now than ever before. Blair, Sasha and John have all gone out of their way to help local people and enhance where they live. I am delighted to be able to thank them, on behalf of everyone at the Housing Executive, for being good neighbours in our Mid & East Antrim area.”