Press release

New research reveals true picture of UK's neighbours - we are half as 'neighbourly' today than in 1982

The most comprehensive piece of research into the UK’s neighbours, has revealed that the UK is less than half as neighbourly in 2010 than it was 28 years ago in 1982. And around one in two (49%) Brits say people nowadays know more about their favourite celebrity than they do about their neighbour. According to Co-operatives UK, we know the names of just seven people in our neighbourhood compared with thirteen in 1982.

Those in Scotland (94%) know more names of their neighbours than anyone else in the UK and in England it’s the Northerners who know most of the names of their neighbours (94%) - while Londoners are least likely to know their neighbours with 11% being unable to name any. People in Wales have more close friends than others across the UK.

Research conducted online by YouGov, in May, on behalf of Co-operatives UK also reveals that in 2010, the majority of us speak to our neighbours once a week or less often (66%), one in four of us (27%) hold a spare key for our neighbours and while the number of people looking after pets or plants has halved (now 23%), over thirty million of us now take in parcels for those next door.

The good news is that a significant number of us take steps to keep an eye on those in our neighbourhood who are elderly or disabled - 26% keep an eye on a non- relative and 11% on relatives - and twenty one million conversations are taking place each day between neighbours.

"It is intriguing" says Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, "that we see our neighbours much less but we like them more!"

The survey also reveals that:

- We are four times less willing to start up conversations with complete strangers - a drop from an average of 78% across a range of social settings to 21% today;
- The numbers of 'never neighbours' people who will never call round next door, has increased by over half (from 26% in 1982 to 43% today)
- Six out of ten of our neighbours called round for a chat (i.e. once every few months or more often) in 1982 compared with more than two in ten (22%) today
- We find it much harder to start up a conversation with complete strangers across a range of social settings, just two out of ten of us find it easy today compared to eight out of ten finding it easy in 1982.

"While it is true that our streets have changed, Britain at heart still thinks of itself as a neighbourly nation and the reciprocity of contact, conversation and assistance across the garden fence or front drive is still a major driver for co-operation and trust in Britain today."

"And our research confirms that you don't need to love your neighbour, but it does help to get on."

The research was conducted ahead of the first ever Co-operatives Fortnight (19 June - 3 July 2010) - which brings together all those with a passion and interest in co-operative action.

The survey is published in a report 'Co-operative Streets: Neighbours in the UK' which can be downloaded by clicking here.