Survey: Brits want to bond, not bicker, with neighbours

Bonding moments like royal wedding street parties, riot clean ups and excitement ahead of the 2012 Olympics appear to have boosted the nation’s neighbourly love, as nearly nine in ten (88 per cent) Brits know the names of the people they live next door to, according to a new survey.

The research found that almost one in five (18 per cent) claim to know all their neighbours names in their street or in their block and a mere 12 per cent say they don’t know anyone’s name.

The majority of us, 86 per cent, feel comfortable asking a neighbour for help, with more than half of us (51 per cent) seeking assistance to jump start a car’s flat battery, one in three (37 per cent) having no qualms about asking a neighbour to wait at their house for a locksmith when locked out, and a similar number (33 per cent) calling on a neighbour to lend a hand to lift heavy boxes. Looking after pets, gardening assistance and babysitting were also high on the help list.

It’s not just that we want their help, as 89 per cent actually like our fellow residents, and one in four (24 per cent) are close friends with a neighbour. A sense of community is felt by 69 per cent of us, 40 per cent say their neighbourhood is welcoming and friendly and two in three (63 per cent) think where they live has a central hub. Pubs, schools and parks were named the top three focal points across the country.

It seems knowing the people in nearby properties has boosted the safety and security of neighbourhoods, as only 11 per cent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t leave their home to investigate if they heard an unusual noise outside. Three in five (72 per cent) would pop outside to see what’s going on if they heard a car crash, a woman screaming (71 per cent), a loud bang (47 per cent) or a gunshot (42 per cent).

Ninety-one per cent say they would like to bond more with their neighbours, and it seems helping in an emergency brings people together (48 per cent), while introducing ourselves when new people move in (44 per cent) and children playing together (24 per cent) encourages friendship. Shared hobbies and interests, as well as chatting about similar pets were also named as ways to build relationships.

Psychologist Susan Quilliam said: “This is excellent news because the research suggests that the more we make connections with those around us, the happier and healthier we tend to be both physically and mentally.

“Today, we typically have to move away from our extended family and work long hours which often means we have little time to socialise, so it’s rewarding to hear that we’re feeling close to our neighbours and feeling a clear sense of attachment to them.

“It’s particularly interesting that we’re willing not only to support, but also to ask for support. Psychologically, feeling able to accept help represents just as strong proof of close community as actively helping.

“The fact we’re happy to admit we need assistance and can’t do everything ourselves, shows that we feel emotionally safe around our neighbours – and that emotional safety is a key reason why we also feel physically safe in our neighbourhoods.

“Of course we can always do more – I’d urge everyone to pop next door and say hello, or to join a local community project. But it’s already hugely encouraging that as a nation we feel so close to those around us.”