Member Stories

The Acres: how to organise the perfect summer get together

Written by Alice Skeats

North East of Horley you will find The Acres, a development of 700 new homes completed two years ago. The neighbourhood comprises of people of all ages and walks of life. The Acres currently ranks as our highest percentage of residents in one neighbourhood, with a whopping 65% of households on Nextdoor!

We caught up with Lead and Chairman of their Residents Association Martin Saunders to find out more about their neighbourhood, how they have come together on Nextdoor and their recent Royal Wedding celebrations. 

First things first, when did you move to The Acres and are you a Surrey born and bred?

I was actually born and bred in Orpington and moved to The Acres in 2011 with my wife Katherine and three sons Robin, Owen and Noah. The development started in 2009 and was finished in 2016, however it was clear after a while that some of the promises that were made to the residents were taking much longer than anticipated. It was then we realised we needed to come together as a community to help get things done. There were so many people who cared about where they lived and wanted to get issues resolved and so in November 2014 we formed The Acres Residents Association (TARA).  The group’s email list quickly grew to 650 members and we realised we needed an online forum where we could come discuss concerns, take action and plan events.

And this is where Nextdoor came in?

Yes! We explored lots of options, such as Google Groups, Facebook and our own dedicated forum. However Nextdoor seemed to be the perfect fit. I tried it out and it was just what we were looking for and TARA agreed it was the right tool to use. What we liked about it and that other platforms couldn’t offer, was that it verified that the people requesting to join the online community really did live there. It also ensured that the information reaching your screen was just for us and about us, rather than other social media sites where you may miss relevant news and updates.

Well Nextdoor certainly seems to be successful for The Acres – you have an amazing 65% of households signed up – that is our highest % neighbourhood in the UK!

That’s great news! We did a big push to get our members on the platform – for us, it’s the main method of engaging with our neighbours and community. I feel very strongly that if you live in a community where people know and trust each other, it’s a safe and prosperous one. The Acres is a neighbourhood with people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds. It is important we all meet and know one another to create a safe and happy community. Nextdoor has been a great platform to share ideas, plan events and for neighbours to get to know each other. It has been a real social engine for us.

We are so pleased to hear that. There are many people who feel disconnected and isolated these days, so it is great communities can use Nextdoor to come together to bring these people together.

Definitely. We are living in a time when digitally, we have never been better connected but in fact some people are more lonely than they have ever been. If we can fight against that in our own little way, we can make the world a better place. We can do this by getting people to meet one another and by simply talking. This way we learn more about each other, learning that we share common interests and it helps to break down barriers.

So, how specifically have you used Nextdoor in The Acres?

This weekend we held our very own Royal Wedding themed street party. We held it at Anvil Court, which is right in the middle of The Acres and comprises of 60 assisted living flats. These people are sometimes isolated from the community due to lack of mobility and illness – therefore we wanted to bring the party to them.  

How many people helped out and what did your Royal Wedding street party consist of?

I had a great team of helpers from our neighbourhood including fellow Lead Jasmine as well as our neighbours Karla, Janice, Sonia, Brigid, Louise and my wife Katherine. It was a jam packed day consisting of lots of fun activities bringing young and old together. One of the highlights was a Bake Off competition judged by our Anvil Court residents, a design-your-own-bunting competition for the children, a Royal Family themed quiz and a children’s fancy dress competition. Overall we had around 120 neighbours come together to celebrate, meet new people and enjoy the sunshine!

It sounds like an amazing day. Are you able to tell us more about some of the other events and activities you have done to help inspire other Nextdoor members and neighbourhoods?

Of course. We have come together on a huge range of things. We obviously use Nextdoor like a lot of other neighbourhoods to share ideas, recommendations and concerns for our community. But we have also used it to arrange lots of great events and initiatives such as;

  • Community clean-ups in the area
  • Jubilee Street Party and a Great British Bake Off picnic
  • Community fitness such as outdoor Zumba sessions, a running club, a cycling group and a regular 5-a-side football team
  • Board game club nights
  • Meet your MP night
  • and of course Christmas Parties

We have lots more planned for the future too, which we will definitely keep you informed about!

Wow! The Acres certainly have been busy using Nextdoor in lots of amazing and fun ways, which we hope will inspire you and your neighbourhoods across the UK and the world.

Do you have a story about how you’ve used Nextdoor in your neighbourhood? Let us know.

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