Half of Brits can't name their neighbour

Article date: 24 August 2006

“Sorry to bother you, but can I borrowa cup of sugar please?” Not any more! Friendly neighbourrelations in the UK have slumped to a serious low, with millions ofBrits not even knowing the name of those living right next door tothem, new research reveals today.

When once neighbours would chat over thegarden fence or come together for street parties, shockingly today,Brits do not love their neighbours:

  • More than one in 10 (12%) people admit to going a whole monthwithout speaking to any of their neighbours
  • A third of those divulged they have never uttered a word totheir neighbours
  • 55% of Brits don’t even know the name of their next doorneighbour

A study, compiled by Norwich UnionInsurance, has exposed an anti-social situation that is set toworsen, as nearly two thirds (64%) of Brits believe people arebecoming increasingly less neighbourly.

However, there are invaluable benefits toengaging in good neighbour relations that should not beover-looked:

  • 88% of Brits agree that neighbours keeping an eye on their homeswhilst they’re away reduces the risk of burglary
  • Being able to share good contact details of reputable tradesmencan reduce untold misery when disaster strikes at home
  • Parents will always welcome a trustworthy neighbour to baby sittheir children
  • Being considerate over the level of noise will be reciprocatedby a good neighbour

A street of friendly and vigilant neighbours is clearly asvaluable as a security guard keeping watch over your home, butwhilst protective neighbours come at no cost, 24hr surveillancewould set you back in excess of £2,500* for just one weekalone.

Stereotypically aloof Londoners surpassthemselves, as the study reveals they are the most neighbourlyregion in the UK, but our friends across the border in Wales letthemselves down on community spirit and are the least neighbourlyregion. It’s not always easy to make that first step andsurprisingly, nattering Northerners find it harder to break the icewith new neighbours than their steely Southern counterparts.

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman has developedfive easy steps to help Brits break the ice with their neighboursand improve community spirit:

  1. It’s important not to overwhelm new neighbours, so toprevent appearing like a busybody simply drop a welcome cardthrough their letter box inviting them for a cup of tea or glassof wine rather than inviting yourself into their home
  2. Once contact has been made, present them with a house warminggift such as a bottle of wine or a pot plant
  3. Appearing helpful but not overbearing is key. If you bump intoyour new neighbour in the street, fill them in on the area– which trades people are reliable, the best shops andrestaurants to visit, where the local doctors and dentists are
  4. If a new neighbour invites you to their house warming party,make sure you pop along but don’t stay until the smallhours – you could outstay your welcome
  5. To reinforce the trust you have built at this stage, offer yourneighbour your mobile phone number so they can contact you ifthey need anything or in cases of emergencies

Dr Aric Sigman explains the slump in theUK’s neighbour relations: “It seems Britons are nowpaying more attention to the Big Brother house than the one nextdoor to their own. The result is deeper-reaching than just a lackof gossip over the garden fence.

“There was a time when whole streetsof people might go on holiday together, but today even asking aneighbour to water the plants while we’re away is somethingwe shy away from. These days we’re more inclined to keepourselves to ourselves, whether it’s to retain our ownprivacy or to respect that of others.

“One of the reasons for this could bethat people are moving away from the areas they were born in,whether it’s for further education, brighter job prospects ormore affordable house prices. This means we’re feeling moreisolated and find ourselves living among strangers and increasinglyreluctant to forge relationships with those living around us.

‘’However research has shownthat people with stronger community ties actually have bettermental and physical health – in fact, they even live longer.What’s more, communities where there is a greater connectionbetween people have less crime. It’s obvious that goodold-fashioned connectedness breeds accountability and in a placewhere everyone knows your name there is a natural form of‘zero tolerance’ which is far more effective than ourincreasing reliance on CCTV cameras and securitydevices.”

Paul Redington, claims manager from NorwichUnion, comments: “It’s clear that developing strongneighbour relations allows us to build a picture of people’slives, their families and comings and goings. A good neighbour canprovide valuable advice about the community you live in, a watchfuleye to help prevent the risk of crime and together you can makeyour environment a more peaceful and friendly place to live. So whynot make the first step and introduce yourself to your neighbourthis bank holiday weekend?”

-ends-

Press office contacts:
Joanna Pritchard,Lexis PR, on 020 7908 6440 / 07712528558 or jpritchard@lexispr.com
Rebecca Holmes, Norwich Union Press Office, on 01603 354 346 /07800 690 731

Notes to editors
League of neighbourliness:

  1. London
  2. South West
  3. Yorkshire
  4. North West
  5. South East
  6. West Midlands
  7. Scotland
  8. North East
  9. East
  10. East Midlands
  11. Wales

*Cost supplied by Chubb for one private security guard at £15.95per hour

ICM interviewed a random sample of 1002 adults aged 18+, bytelephone between 28 July and 30 July 2006. Interviews wereconducted across the country and the results have been weighted tothe profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British PollingCouncil and abides by its rules. Further information atwww.icmresearch.co.uk.

  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest general insurer with amarket share of around 14%, with a focus on insurance forindividuals and small businesses.
  • It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investmentproducts and one of the largest Financial Adviser (FA) providers.FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings businessin the UK.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media

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