"ZENA is the best neighbour you can imagine.” Rais Hasan used this description when he nominated Zena Mozil for a good neighbour award within their Shipley community.
“She always helps people out when they need it, and was very supportive to me and my family when I was very ill,” he says.
Now 86, Zena – who was presented with a Community Stars Award after the nomination – continues to be a tower of strength to those in need.
“I’ve just been to visit an elderly neighbour who is in hospital after a road accident,” she says, adding that she is lucky herself to have kind, caring neighbours.
“We are lucky here, people put the bins out for you, and take them in – most people are very nice and helpful.”
Rais adds: “We help each other. If our clothes line is full we can use other people’s lines. It is vitally important to be good neighbours and help each other, so there is no tension where you live.”
Across the district acts of neighbourliness are encouraged in Bradford Council’s Be Neighbourly campaign, introduced this summer.
It aims to recognise and strengthen relationships at street level.
“I think I’ve been put on this earth to help other people,” says Vera Allott, who is officially one of the best neighbours in Bradford. Before she retired, the octogenarian, from Bowling, worked as a home help, tending to the needs of the elderly. When she retired she carried on helping others, and has not stopped.
“I try my best. If anyone wants anything from the shop I will get it,” she says. “My own neighbours are lovely too. One day a neighbour stopped me and asked me if I was getting all the benefits I was entitled to.”
Two years ago Vera’s efforts won her a Community Stars Award at the annual event organised by the Telegraph & Argus and Bradford Council.
Mick Charlton, stronger communities co-ordinator with Bradford Council, says: “The aim is to celebrate and recognise the strengths we have. It is to encourage good neighbourliness in our communities.
“It is trying to get people to get to know their neighbours and help each other. It could be something as simple as putting a bin out, or making sure an older person is safe and warm in winter, and has enough food.”
The scheme – a partnership between Warm Homes, Healthy People and Stronger Committees – is looking for Street Champions to help out when needed, particularly in cold weather.
It also asks people to organise simple activities in their street to build a stronger sense of belonging to your local community. Examples might include coffee mornings, a street clean-up, a plant or book swap, garden party or family fun day.
Residents can apply for a £50 street activity voucher to contribute to any costs incurred in organising street activities up to the end of this month.
Mick says: “There are places where there are people who are the life and soul of their street. There are some really great examples in the district of people who are supporting others. Something as simple as your street layout can make a difference. In cul-de-sacs people really interact.”
Councillor Imran Hussain, deputy leader at Bradford Council and portfolio-holder for Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “Having a good neighbour makes a difference to everyone, whoever you are, wherever you live.
“By encouraging more people to befriend and look out for their neighbours we can make communities stronger and self-reliant.
“This costs nothing for people to get involved in. It might start with something as simple as just saying hello to a neighbour you might not normally talk to.”
Bill Howe and colleague Ben Gwynne, of the charity Inn Churches, based in Little Germany, support the scheme and recognise its importance.
“We have a society in a state of transition, with people coming from different areas and moving into short-term lets. People don’t know each other like they used to.
“Little acts of kindness matter. I think of my own experience as a child – if it snows you run out and clear the path. If the old man from next door needs anything from the shop you go and get it.”