We launched the first report for Co-operatives Fortnight today, about how neighbourly Britain is.
The great sociologist Michael Argyle wrote about neighbours many years ago in his survey of co-operation in Britain. Ben Page was then good enough to dig out the original survey from MORI’s archives for me and we re-ran the questions, thirty years after the original. The Sunday Times has previewed the report, Co-operative Streets, which you can download here.
The key findings are
- The Good Neighbour Index that we have developed is based on the total number of people helped by their neighbours divided by the number whose neighbours have given them problems. On this index, the UK is less than half as neighbourly in 2010 than it was thirty years ago (1982 index score – 3.6; 2010 index score – 1.8).
- But the good news is that there are new ways to be a good neighbour. While the number of people looking after neighbours’ pets or plants has halved over thirty years, over thirty million people now take in parcels for their neighbour.
- So we see our neighbours less, but in fact we like them more. We see them as more sociable, caring and friendly, although we also see them as more nosey…
- And across the UK, there are at least twenty one million conversations taking place each day between neighbours.
I conclude from all of this that the UK remains a neighbourly, co-operative nation at heart.
Problem neighbours, anti-social behaviour and all manner of disputes do make good stories. “My nan” as one young person told me recently “has taken all her four neighbours to court and she’ll tell everyone about it.” Perhaps it is easy to dub people as ‘neighbours from hell’ without considering what that also says about where you live…