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Only one in three Brits bothers introducing themselves to their neighbours when moving into a new home, it has been revealed. Researchers found a large percentage of us are ‘too busy’ to make ourselves known to those who live nearest to us, while others fear they will ‘have nothing in common’.
It also emerged many of us treat our neighbours like ‘caretakers’ – calling on them only when we need something.
The study also found as many as one in five only know their neighbours because they play ‘pass the parcel’ – taking in packages for them whilst they are out.
Other commons requests include taking bins out, keeping an eye on the house while you’re away or watering plants.
As many as one in four of the 3,000 adults who took part in the study said they were ‘simply too busy’ to make friends, while 18% never see their neighbours to say ‘hello’.
The study also found only one in three people take the time to introduce themselves to their neighbours when they move in somewhere new.
The research was commissioned by The Big Lunch – a Lottery funded initiative encouraging neighbours to share a few hours of food, friendship and fun on Sunday 2 June 2013.
Sir Tim Smit (CORR), Co-Founder of The Big Lunch, said:
”There was a time when everyone was very friendly with the people living next door.
”But as time has gone on, this seems to be becoming rarer, and it’s a shame to see that there are many people who haven’t got the time or are too nervous to get to know their neighbours.
”If you get to know your neighbours, not only does it create a happier, safer environment to live in, but you will probably find they are happy to help you out with your pets or water your plants when you go on holiday.
”You never know, you might even end up with a new best friend, simply from knocking on your neighbour’s door to say hello.”
The study found more than half of those surveyed don’t know their neighbours, with one in four having no idea what their names are.
Key reasons for not befriending them include a lack of time or worries about getting on with them.
The study also found three quarters of people would like there to be more community spirit in their area.
As many as 52% of those said it would make their neighbourhood feel safer and 53% said they just wanted to make new friends.
It also emerged 36% of Brits don’t think they would have anything in common with their neighbours.
However, over half of us who have knocked on a neighbour’s door have sparked a relationship which has borne fruit in the shape of forming a new friendship, being helped out of a sticky situation – or even starting a new
Furthermore, the study found 46% admitted they want to get to know their neighbours better before asking them to keep an eye on their home, garden or pets when they go away.
20% need to live somewhere for a while before they feel ready to meet the rest of the neighbourhood – taking an average of seven months before saying hello for the first time.
And almost two thirds of Brits think they are more likely to get to know their neighbours if they are around the same age.
Another 72% also think you are most likely to have some kind of relationship with your neighbours if you both have children around the same ages.
Over a third of people associate chatting across the garden fence with older generations despite the under 30s being cited as the most likely to talk to their neighbours.
Bringing generations together and giving the area a better reputation were other reasons for wanting more community spirit.
Author and behavioural expert Judi James, said:
”It’s staggering over half of us don’t know our neighbours, especially when we live in an era of crowded isolation, where we are often communicating with people via e-mail and text, at the same time as suffering feelings of loneliness.
”This research shows that the benefits of making bonds with our neighbours are practical, in terms of heightened security, and emotional.
”When we know our neighbours we can feel safer and happier. Our boundaries expand and our sense of loneliness and isolation shrinks.
”There’s no need to feel you’re taking a huge plunge when you start to get to know your neighbours. It’s the ice-breaker effect that is needed to convert strangers into possible friends or acquaintances”.