Door knocking, it can be daunting but we should do it anyway

For anyone reading this and not knowing what I mean by door knocking, it’s a method of outreach we use at Manchester Cares that allows us to meet people that we wouldn’t usually meet. Whether it’s within a housing scheme, out in private housing or a tenant with a housing association, we will knock on each individual door in an area and strike up a conversation on their doorstep.

It plays a big part of our Winter Wellbeing project and the aim is to meet and reach people who we may not normally come into contact with, but need support to stay warm, active and connected. So far this winter we have knocked on 182 doors and had conversations with the wonderful people behind those doors. For older neighbours, getting out in the cold, icy and dark weather can be daunting and by going to people where they are no one misses out on the help that is out there for them.

Our aim with door knocking is to check in on individuals, speak to them, see how they are doing and ask the important questions to understand their state of wellbeing. We invite them to our Social Clubs or other activities in the area, could match them up with a younger neighbour through Love Your Neighbour or arrange to pop back with warm items, from a hot water bottle to draught excluders.

At the end of January we will be running some joint partnership door knocking sessions with BuzzAge Friendly Manchester and other local voluntary groups in Ardwick and Longsight. 

Some neighbours we've met through door knocking include:

Pat

Pat, 80, (beaming here with cocktail in hand!) at an Arawak Walton housing scheme. By visiting people door-to-door and inviting neighbours to our cocktail-making class, we immediately peaked Pat’s interest, as she doesn’t get out of her flat much but loves having a chat. She had a great time making a Bramble and tasting a Seville orange gin!

We met Pamela while out meeting neighbours with S4B Housing Association. She explained to us that she was still young at heart and didn’t like traditional older person activities. We invited her to come along to our social clubs and also made a referral to LEAP Energy Advice Service as she was struggling to keep her home warm.

And finally, Samuel was really struggling with draughty door frames. We’ve arranged to drop off some draught excluders to his home and put in a referral for Manchester Care and Repair to take a look at the frames properly.

We follow a few simple dos and don'ts when we're out and about which include:

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DON’T

  • Be afraid to just have a chat. If neighbours don’t immediately respond to the help you’re offering, don’t worry. Just be friendly, treat them as you would any of your own neighbours (and leave them with some information so that they can get back to you.
  • Be offended by a closed door. People are swamped with information and people trying to sell them things they don’t need. Trust is hard to build. If someone isn’t interested, respect their decision and leave them with some information – they can always get back to you afterwards.
  • Go into someone’s home if you don’t feel it is safe to do so: follow your gut!

DO

  • Wear a badge at all times and make sure to explain why you’re there.
  • Make sure another colleague keeps tabs on your whereabouts or work in twos if possible.

Most people are really happy to see a friendly face at their door, and some of the fantastic stories we hear from neighbours across Manchester simply wouldn’t be told without us chatting on their doorstep. The more real life social interaction we can encourage, the better we can stay connected in this disconnected age.

If you work within a community organisation or health service and would like to get involved in some door knocking yourself, or to find out more about our Winter Wellbeing project, get in touch with Amy on [email protected]

Amy Saunders

Posted by Amy Saunders on Friday 17th January 2020

Amy is Manchester Cares' Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator.

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