Love thy neighbour? We don’t even know them

More than half of people in UK admit clandestine antisocial behaviour

Social Affairs Editor

Avoiding neighbours by delaying the moment you leave or enter your home sounds like something Victor Meldrew might do, but more than half of people in the UK admit to the clandestine antisocial behaviour.

The scale of isolation in many of Britain’s streets has been revealed by YouGov polling, which shows fewer than a quarter of people in the UK feel a sense of belonging in the community and one in 10 have no interaction with neighbours. It also suggests that the notion of the North being friendlier is a myth.

Those in the South-west are most likely to avoid a neighbour, with 63 per cent saying they had done it, while the Scots are much more friendly, with just 47 per cent taking steps to avoid bumping into those living next door.

Though the North is typically portrayed as friendlier than the South, the east of England came out as the friendliest region. Half of people there invite their neighbours over for a cup of tea and 60 per cent keep an eye out for each other’s homes while they are away.

The most likely reason for interaction with neighbours is the delivery of an online order, with 57 per cent of people saying they receive parcels for others.

Kate Fox, a social anthropologist and director of the Social Issues Research Centre, said: “Friendlier North is a myth. Leaving aside London, which is always a law unto itself, the differences between North and South are not significant. Southerners are just as likely to know their neighbours by name, say hello to them and stop for a friendly chat. If anything, the East is the most neighbourly region.”

Ms Fox believes the nation’s struggle to get to know their neighbours is down to social awkwardness. “If anything, we’re just too polite,” she said. “We’ve created a long list of strict, unwritten rules around privacy that hold us back, making us a bit more socially awkward than other nations. We want a sense of community, but need a bit of a nudge first, to shed our inhibitions.”

However, 65 per cent of Britons believe their neighbourhoods would be stronger if people were encouraged to get to know each other better.

Jim Maddan, chair of Neighbourhood Watch, which commissioned the poll along with Compare the Market, said: “In an area where there’s good community cohesion the opportunities for crime are diminished because people are looking out for each other. It’s also better for older people as it means they can stay in their homes longer because neighbours collect their medication or respond if they need help.” 

Older people and parents are most likely to connect. Less than a quarter of 18-34 year olds have invited their neighbours over for a cup of tea. And while almost half of people aged 55 and over would classify their neighbours as friends, less than a fifth of 18-34-year-olds would do the same.

Fox said of the generation gap: “A quarter of 18-24-year-olds have only been living in their neighbourhood for a year, compared with just 4 per cent of over-45s.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral