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This Britain

Love thy neighbour? Most British people don’t even know what their names are


British people are becoming increasingly isolated from their local communities with more than half not knowing their neighbours’ first names, a study says.

About 70 per cent of people do not know their neighbours’ full names and just over a third wouldn’t recognise them, according to a poll by Churchill Home Insurance.

Less than a third of those polled would classify their neighbours as friends. This falls to 18 per cent for those aged between 18 and 34.

Londoners were largely found to be the most apathetic about their neighbours, with 82 per cent not knowing what they did for a living.

By contrast, 65 per cent of respondents in the south-east of the country were unable to say what job their neighbours had.

“Relationships with our neighbours have changed significantly over the years because the way we live, work and socialise has evolved,” Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance, said.

“We move homes more frequently, spend a lot less time communicating face to face and are more cautious about who we welcome into our homes.

“As a result, we know very little about our neighbours, as we all get on with our own busy lives.”

The findings will fuel concerns that communities in Britain are becoming more isolated at a time when the Government is trying to promote social inclusiveness and integration. Published last year, the UK National Social Report outlined the main challenges Britain faced with regards to social inclusion and long-term care, stressing the need to strengthen families up and down the country.

Exactly 13 per cent of people said they distrusted, disliked or deliberately avoided people they lived next to. Again, the attitude towards neighbours among younger residents was more extreme with a fifth harbouring negative feelings towards them. Maintaining a good relationship between people living closest to each other can make communities a safer and more sociable place to live, Mr  Scott said.

“The lack of trust and familiarity between neighbours does have implications,” Mr Scott said.

“People may be less willing and less able to watch out for each other – realising there is a stranger on a neighbour’s property is very difficult if we cannot recognise the person who lives there.”