Being the owner of a fell pony and a rider since I was a very small child, my attention was drawn by a short programme on TV some time ago now, called ‘The Horse Hoarder’.

It was a rather sad documentary about an eccentric elderly man who lived in a derelict farmhouse with no running water or electricity and kept a herd of wild horses on his land.

He clearly loved the horses deeply and had a special relationship with them.

Local people kept well away from him with the exception of one young woman, the owner of a local horse rescue and livery stables, who had taken him under her wing.

She seemed determined to stick by him, offering him whatever help she could, despite her understandable exasperation when, for example, he took on a further ten horses from another friend who could no longer look after them himself.

It struck me as a wonderful example of neighbourliness – of caring very practically for another person with whom we just happen to share geographical space, with no hope or expectation of receiving anything back.

But so many people today tell me they don’t actually know their neighbours – often because they work long hours and seldom even have the chance of a casual conversation - so they can’t possibly know what they need.

It’s not that we don’t want to help. People spring into action when someone in our midst experiences some kind of crisis that receives publicity.

Yet what a difference it would make, especially to the many of all ages in our town who are lonely, if more of us made the effort to be good neighbours.

Jesus taught that we should ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’ and was immediately asked, ‘But who is my neighbour?’

He responded by telling the story of the Good Samaritan, which makes the point that anyone we encounter who is in need is our neighbour, whoever they may be.

The bias in the Bible is always towards reaching across boundaries to those who ordinarily are on the edges of society – and then, as now, that included those who are on their own, without the family support many of us take for granted.

That young woman was certainly a good neighbour in those terms.

How might we all get to know each other better and rebuild the sense of neighbourliness in our communities, reducing the loneliness so many feel today?

Rev Jennet McLeod, Superintendent Minister of the South West Cumbria United Area