Our Rory

Rory is one neighbour I met for the first time over the Jubilee celebrations – along with his parents, as he is three years old, and others who share the bond of living close by.

As a contribution to the coming Co-operatives Fortnight, June 23 – July 27, I have updated our research on neighbourliness in the UK, in the context of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Royalist or Roundhead, a huge number of people took part. One in four people went to local events like street parties and got to know, on average, five more neighbours each, like Rory, that they didn’t know before. These events were organised co-operatively by a million women and half a million men (when it comes to community, it is males that are the second sex).

The saying runs that if you want something done, ask a busy person and this held true for the Jubilee celebrations. The more children you have in a household, the more likely you are to help out.

The events overall did involve a mix of ages – indeed young people aged between 18 and 24 were more likely to participate in events (28%) than those who have retired (22%).

In my original research report, Co-operative Streets, I argued that we already have a big society of neighbours and practical co-operation that is part of our national identity and something to cherish. Co-operatives like Chelmsford Star in Essex have been tapping into this, for example encouraging members to introduce themselves, and their coop, to neighbours in the street.

This modest research draws on a survey we commissioned from YouGov, following an original questionnaire first used in 1982, and which allows, with all appropriate qualifications, for comparisons over thirty years. I first heard about this reading the wonderful book from a few years back on co-operation by the great sociologist Michael Argyll.

The Good Neighbour Index tracks the percentage of people who, in the past two years, have been helped by their neighbours (74%), compared to those who have had problems with their neighbours (42%).

Perhaps as a result of the events around the Jubilee, the Good Neighbour Index has risen by 5% over the last year – to a level of 48.5 where 100 represents the state of neighbourliness in the base year of 1982, according to calculations by Co-operatives UK. The index is highest, at present, in Wales.

According to my calculations, there are on average 24 million conversations every day with neighbours, higher now than two years ago, in 2010. So this blog, based on one of those, is dedicated to you, Rory.

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