Good Neighbourhood Awards Member Stories

Good Neighbour Awards 2019 – How one man fought to get his neighbour off the streets

Written by Patrick Grier

Earlier this year we launched our search to find the UK’s best neighbours who are going above and beyond to help those in need and their communities as part of our Good Neighbour Awards.

Out of hundreds of nominations, six well-deserved neighbours were crowned the winners of Nextdoor’s Good Neighbour Awards 2019.

Over the next week, we will be sharing with you the individual winners and their inspirational stories. 

Today, we are pleased to introduce Robert Harwood, from Caterham, Surrey. It’s fair to say that Robert is an unsung hero in his neighbourhood, as hardly anyone is aware of his selfless actions which came about when a neighbour of his desperately needed help.

Robert has gone above and beyond to provide support and help for a disabled neighbour who fell on hard times – becoming homeless and experiencing mental health issues and addiction. 

Nick, who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, used to live nextdoor to Robert. However, following a tough time, he lost his home and found himself sleeping on a park bench.  

It wasn’t until Robert bumped into Nick in the town centre that he found out he had hit rock bottom and was now living on the street. Robert decided then and there he couldn’t just let him go – Nick was a neighbour and needed help.

Over the course of a year, Robert liaised with the local council to help find Nick suitable accommodation. Though it wasn’t always straight forward – the council first placed him in a flat at the top of a hill in his local town. 

However, despite his determination, Nick struggled every day to get out and about in the area due to the hill and his impairment and found himself back on the streets. Robert took it upon himself to lobby the council to find more suitable accommodation and in the meantime went out of his way to put Nick up in a local hotel so he was safe and warm. Nothing will compare to the moment when he saw the smile on Nick’s face to know he had a place to rest his head.

Over the course of a year, Robert was able to help secure Nick suitable accommodation. He also organised support from the local council to make sure his benefits were in order and registered him to the local GP to ensure he could receive treatment for his alcohol dependence. 

Robert also went the extra mile and helped kit out Nick’s new place with household appliances such as toiletries, food and clothing, transforming what was just a house into a real home. This meant the world to Nick.

Robert was never asked by Nick for help, he simply felt duty-bound to do whatever he could to support him.

Nick’s situation really hit home for Robert. It made him understand how easy it can be to fall into a downward spiral. Nick is now in a much better position than he was before, all thanks to Robert. The pair have been through a lot together and the journey has helped Robert grow as a person, as much as it has Nick.

Robert’s nextdoor neighbour Dorinda Cooper nominated Robert for the award after learning about his kind actions. “Robert went to town to help Nick when he was deemed homeless. It really can happen to anyone and he went above and beyond to help our neighbour Nick. No-one is even aware of what lengths he went to support him and that’s why he deserves to be Nextdoor’s Good Neighbour Award Winner.”

Robert is the third profile in our Good Neighbour Award series and we hope his story will inspire neighbours across the UK to get involved in their local community. Stay tuned to find out more about our remaining winners.

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