'Driveway Drinks' rained off - but spirits still high

Robert Read with his partner Bree Shaw and son Slade Forward-Read. Photo: Supplied
Robert Read with his partner Bree Shaw and son Slade Forward-Read. Photo: Supplied
An event to keep people in a Christchurch neighbourhood connected during the lockdown was rained out on Sunday, but it hasn't dampened Robert Read's spirits.

Last week, after spotting the idea online, he created a Facebook event page called "Driveway Drinks", encouraging residents to sit out on their driveway, have a drink of their choice and socialise from a distance every Sunday at 6pm.

Non-alcoholic drinks were encouraged, Mr Read said.

His street was "very quiet" on Sunday, but he has seen photos online of people socialising in their driveways over the past week - including on the Wigram Skies Community Page. The post received mixed feedback on Facebook. Some said it was "brilliant", but others were not so keen, with one poster scolding the idea: "Seriously people...just stay home! This is just dumb."

This photo posted on the Wigram Skies Community Page on Facebook shows residents taking part in a...
This photo posted on the Wigram Skies Community Page on Facebook shows residents taking part in a social distancing event. Photo: Facebook
But Mr Read said: "The reports we heard back from those was it was really good and it was a chance for them to meet their neighbours."

He said while his neighbourhood event was advertised for Sunday and he will aim to hold it next Sunday, it can be held anytime.

"It is just a chance to get out while still keeping safe so you are not cooped up within your own circle basically."

Mr Read said when he duplicates the event on Facebook, he will be very precise on details to remind residents they do not need to drink alcohol.

He said the most important thing for mental health during difficult times is keeping communities connected and getting to know your neighbours. The event is one way of doing that, he said.

Since recovering from one of several attempts to take his own life in 2013, Mr Read has set up a Facebook page named Suicide Awareness/Prevention. He is working to engage people about mental health at community events.

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