There is a different theme every year.
For example, in 2020-21 the theme was Neighbourliness. Poems might include ideas such as the folks next door, what makes a good neighbours, my kind neighbour, helping my neighbours, sharing with neighbours, our street party, making peace with my neighbours and so on.
Below you will find some more ideas that might help students to generate ideas for poems and pictures.
The early months of 2020 have been a time of lockdown to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic. It was a time when we were not allowed out except for essential shopping, exercise, medical appointments or to deliver things to those who were unable to go out, such as those with symptoms of the disease.
It was a time when we could not visit our family. The only people we saw were our neighbours.
Sometimes we went shopping for our elderly neighbours, always being careful to leave the goods on the step and move away before the door was opened.
It was a time when good neighbours could support each other by simply talking, always ensuring we kept our “social distance” of two meters.
Neighbours whom we never normally met now took on a new importance.
That is why, for the Coventry & Warwickshire Children’s Peace Poem 2021, we have chosen the theme of Neighbourliness.
Good Neighbours Coventry is an online project founded in 2016 to provide friendship and social activity for over 50s in Coventry.
Normally they offer face to face befriending, coffee mornings and friendship groups for the over-50s.
During the COVID-19 lockdown they changed their activities and offered telephone and pen-pal befriending, grocery shopping, medication delivery, foodbank parcels to the over-50s and a smaller range of services to disabled/self-isolating isolated adults aged 18-49.
For more details see https://hopecoventry.org.uk/projects/good-neighbours-coventry/
Good Neighbours UK implements projects around the world that promote and protect children’s rights, supports the creation of sustainable communities, strengthens global partnerships and advocates the rights of the most vulnerable people in society, in a respectful and effective way.
See details on their website https://www.goodneighbours-uk.org/
Problems sometimes arise between neighbours. If they are not resolved these can drag on for years and cause a great deal of bitterness and disruption to people’s lives.
One way to resolve these problems is a procedure called Restorative Justice. In this a trained mediator will talk to all parties concerned, often exchanging messages between people who have done nothing but shout at each other. They finally try to bring the parties together and get them both to explain their points of view and find an amicable resolution to the issues they face.
For more information see https://restorativejustice.org.uk/restorative-practice-housing
The following quotes about Neighbours from various religious texts or traditions might inspire some thoughts.
Rocky Grove suggests:
Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbour and look upon him with a bright and friendly face.
Joyce Miller suggests:
A great deal of the Buddha’s teaching is about the monastic community and neighbourliness doesn’t fit simply into that. There is plenty of guidance on how to maintain a stable, amicable Sangha but that’s different. Teachings for the laity tend to be about general principles – the eightfold path and the five precepts – rather than specifics.
The best I can come up with is the Metta Sutta – the words on loving kindness. It’s too long to reproduce in full here but you may be able to get hold of the whole sutta. The most relevant sections are:
’Whatever living beings there may be…
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to be born –
May all beings be at ease.’
’Let none deceive another.
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another….’
John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral writes:
The command to love our neighbour is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. Matthew’s gospel records it like this, as a lawyer comes to ask him a question:
‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ (Matthew 22. 36-40)
It’s a quotation from the Hebrew scriptures, which was already well known. In Luke’s gospel a similar conversation records Jesus asking the lawyer the question: he gives the same answer, which Jesus approves. So it’s already shared wisdom, but has become closely associated with Jesus, who embodied it in his life and teaching in a way which has inspired people ever since.
Here in Coventry Cathedral we see this commitment to God and one another as our core purpose – to heal broken relationships so that we can all live at peace. That means being honest about where things have gone wrong, and putting in the work to put them right – and inspiring people through our story of reconciliation to discover reconciliation in our own lives.
John Stroyan, Bishop of Warwick, writes:
When Jesus taught about loving our neighbour, he told the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’. He was teaching us that it is not good enough just to love people like us, our friends, our family or people of the same faith as us. The love of God that he calls us to share in is a love for all. God’s love crosses all barriers and boundaries. In Coventry and Warwickshire we have so many inspiring examples of this. Children have much to teach adults about this. True peace is about all of us, not some of us.
I hope and pray that together we grow in the building of peace and reconciliation.
Dr Navdeep Singh suggests
From Kabit – Bhai Gurdas Ji, panna (page) 564:
Just as worshipper asks for sweet, distributes to all but does not eat any himself.
Just as a tree bears sweet fruits but does not eat them itself. Instead birds, travellers pluck and eat them.
Just as ocean is full of all sorts of precious pearls and stones but those who have swan like temperament dive in it and relish them.
Similarly, there are many saints and hermits (who have no self- interest and are always ready to do good to others without any gain to themselves) their lives become successful helping others.
Dr Jogtagia suggests:
Our Upnashids say
” Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina”- Let all be
” Sarve Santu Niramaya” – Let all be healthy.
” Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu ” Let us see good in everybody
” Maa Kashchit dukh bagh Bhavet “- Almighty take away all miseries .
Jane Sault writes:
It’s thought that George Eliot (of Nuneaton and Coventry) was a humanist and the following quote has long been attributed to her:
‘What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other?’
– Attributed to George Eliot
Ros Johnson suggests:
The Old Testament story of the Good Samaritan says:
“Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself ” -Leviticus 19 (17-18)
Ghulam Vohra offers this quote from the Quran:
‘Worship Allah and join none with Him [in worship]; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess.’ [an-Nisa’ 4:36]
Quotes from the Holy Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) about Muslims behaviour towards neighbours
- “Jibreel kept urging me that neighbours should be treated well until I thought he would make them heirs.” [Al-Bukhari]
- ‘The best friend in the sight of Allah is the friend who is best to his friends; and the best neighbour is the neighbour who is best to his neighbours.’ [At-Tirmidhi]
- ‘By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.” It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, ‘The one whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil.’ [Al Bukhari and Muslim]
- “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not annoy his neighbour.” [Al Bukhari and Muslim]
Janey Manton suggests:
“If it harm none, do as you will.” This is called The Wiccan Rede and most pagans will accept that – including the implication that you must allow other people to get on with what they want to do – even if you don’t share or even approve – as long as they are not harming anybody.
All pagans follow The Golden Rule – “Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.” or “Do as you would be done by.”
Heathens tend to express that in the negative – “Don’t treat others as you would not wish to be treated by others.” And they are very keen on the concept of personal responsibility and personal honour which means a lot of rules about repaying hospitality and treating other people with honour.
The Co-op runs regular online studies of neighbourliness. In the third one, released in 21 April 2020, they found government measures requiring people to stay at home have led to a surge in neighbourliness as people look out for the vulnerable and talk to those next door more than ever before. They found that
Almost three quarters (72%) of UK adults now know which of their neighbours are classed as high risk and over a quarter (26%) have checked in on their neighbours in over last few weeks.
Over a fifth (21%) of UK adults who know at least some of their neighbours have spoken to them more in the last few weeks than they did previously.
Despite not being able to spend time physically with neighbours, almost a sixth (16%) of UK adults who know their neighbours say their relationship has become better in the last few weeks.
Highlighting the lengths people are going to in order to stay in touch, over two fifths (42%) of people who know their neighbours have spoken to them over a fence or a wall.
Almost a fifth (18%) say they have chatted online or over the phone to their neighbours in the last few weeks to see how they are or if they need any help and over a tenth (13%) have dropped off shopping or essential medicine for neighbours or others in their household.
The different ways people are keeping in touch with neighbours over the last few weeks:
- Almost half (46%) have spoken to their neighbours in the street at a distance
- Over two fifths (42%) have chatted to them over a fence or wall
- Over a quarter (28%) have waved at their neighbours through a window
- A quarter (26%) have checked to see if they, or anyone in their household needs anything
- 18% have spoken to them on the phone or online to see how they are or if they need any help
- 17% have spoken to them about the Government’s announcement to stay at home
- 12% have dropped off shopping for them or people in their household
- 4% have collected and dropped off essential medication for neighbours
Furthermore, the study shows technology is playing a huge part in keeping communities in contact. In the last few weeks alone, over a sixth (17%) of people who have contact details for their neighbours have received new contact details for their neighbours, ensuring they can keep in touch during this time.
Neighbourhood Watch support individuals and groups to create safer, stronger and active communities.
They believe in a caring society that is focused on trust and respect, in which people are safe from crime and enjoy a good quality of life.
Neighbourhood Watch is a grassroots charitable movement. It is the largest crime prevention voluntary movement in England and Wales and has upwards of 2.3 million members. Schemes are run by volunteers across England and Wales supported by volunteer Associations, and by Neighbourhood Watch Network, the national umbrella organisation for the movement.
For more information visit https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/