Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Let's rediscover the love for our communities this February 14th
12 February 2024, 15:02 | Updated: 12 February 2024, 18:22
- Kim Samuel is the founder of the Belonging movement and author of On Belonging – finding connection in an age of Isolation
The 14th of February is a mixed bag for many. Some love it, some hate it, and some are simply not fussed.
Listen to this article
Whatever you think of the day, there is something that we can all agree on – that Valentine’s can be, at times, inescapable. Supermarkets are festooned in pink and red, restaurant special boards advertise ‘sharing for two’, and cafes try their hand at special pink drinks – swapping out a simple coffee in favour of ruby, berry, and passionfruit twists.
So, with love in the air and on the menu everywhere we go, some of us can be left feeling a little lonely on the day. But Valentine’s should not be reserved just for romantic couples (especially if we consider that over a quarter of the population feel disappointed by their partners on the day).
On a personal level, I renamed Valentine’s Day as International Chocolate Lovers Day many years ago – removing the pressure on romance to celebrate a more inclusive holiday around one of life’s most universal loves.
Valentine’s Day, at its core, is a celebration of love, appreciation, and gratitude. If you ask me, those are three values that we desperately need to rediscover in our local communities to cultivate a sense of Belonging.
Despite being in such close proximity, almost one in ten people have never talked to their neighbours at all – with 18% not knowing the name of a single one of their neighbours.
Can you remember the last time you had a meaningful chat with one of your neighbours, rather than just exchanging parcels you were looking after?
Or take a walk in your local park? Have you had a chance to visit the new café on your street?
Perhaps this Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to fall back in love with our communities, to re-discover our local heritage and to feel a sense of pride in the very place we spend our every day.
It is an opportunity to discover a new favourite restaurant, a new bench in the park, a new place to speak to the people we pass on the street every day – whether this be at the Church, Mosque or Synagogue, at the supermarket, or at the bank.
It is an opportunity to meet with our friends, to discuss our favourite films, the new café we tried, the new book we picked up from the library up the road.
This is the feeling of Belonging. A sense of Belonging is of People, of Place, of being proud of where we are from and where we reside. How many of us can truly say we know the place in which we live? That we know people for more than their faces or the history of our towns?
So, this Valentine’s Day, forget the flowers and the chocolate (unless you fancy a bit of self-indulgence!) and connect with your community, with your friends, family, and neighbours.
For, if we can all find a way to fall back in love with our town, we can all find a way to Belong.
LBC Views provides a platform for diverse opinions on current affairs and matters of public interest. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official LBC position. To contact us email email@example.com