8.50am on Monday 20 January 2020

Who's my neighbour?

Topic : Who's my neighbour?

What was the group composition?

A mixed group from All Saints Church, Gosforth, learning about the Faith Life Conversation process. The group varied in age and experience, all were regular members of the church.

What was the topic and why did you choose it?

The topic was ‘Who is my neighbour?’. We chose it based on a newspaper article about an elderly person in South Gosforth, so it was local, topical and addressed concerns in the church about the care of the elderly.


What were the range of different experiences that you shared

  • Experience of care of own parents who are increasingly frail – easy to identify with issues in the newspaper article.
  • My own mother felt trapped, with a deteriorating quality of life. Experience of care was good, though distressing to see changes.
  • Experiences of caring for elderly neighbours. Difficulties when new neighbours move in who don’t want to be bothered by elderly neighbours – loss of a sense of community.
  • Part of the issue is who accepts responsibility.
  • Carer’s need support.
  • Caring for elderly parents can force siblings to work together, or drive them apart.
  • What standard of care is acceptable.  Difficulty of managing elderly parent’s own opinions that they can look after themselves, when evidence is to the contrary.
  • Some people are not amenable to help. Others can be unpleasant and difficult
  • Difficult in a large congregation/neighbourhood to keep track of people.
  • Recognising fears and vulnerability of elderly.
  • Fine line between caring and being a busy body.
  • Dealing with mental illness.
  • Feelings of guilt – leaving elderly parents at home


What themes emerged?

  • Resources – limitation of resources
  • Responsibility
  • Assessment of the situation – how best to assess
  • Do we accommodate to situations – gradually adjust to poor living?
  • What is the ‘norm’?
  • Relationships between carers – paid/unpaid
  • Remote extended family
  • Changing social perspective on care of the elderly
  • Expectations that the state will do something
  • The difference between a person being put through a process, and actually caring
  • Meeting criteria/targets rather than needs
  • Stresses in the social care system – worker’s poorly trained and exploited
  • What are the responsibilities of a son/daughter?
  • Expectations of doctors/GP
  • History of almshouses run by the church
  • Other faiths – no muslims in old people’s homes, they live with families, care through mosques etc.


What connection were made with our faith traditions?

  • Jesus teaches that all are our neighbours
  • Focus on the marginalised eg. lepers
  • Love your neighbour as yourself – what would it be like to be that person?
  • Psalms – I have been young and now I am old…
  • Do we take responsibility for ‘being’ the church?
  • The story of the Good Samaritan – a good Samaritan sees the job through to the end
  • The law can lead you astray
  • Jesus encourages us to take a risk
  • Faced with a choice, do we do the ‘nice’ things when we should be doing the things we least like to do?
  • ‘Please God, don’t let me pass by on the other side’


What new responses emerged for the group?

  • Awareness-raising of the issues
  • More local responses eg. neighbourhood groups
  • Don’t make assumptions – ask what is going on
  • Accept when we are not wanted
  • Review how I relate to my neighbour
  • Feel affirmed to do what I am doing

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