Everybody needs good neighbours We do now

Date: Thursday 21 July 2011

The recession has helped Britain rekindle its long-lost sense of community spirit, according to recent research by Taylor Wimpey. The poll revealed that more than a quarter of homeowners think they are closer to their neighbours now than they were before the global financial crisis hit.

Conversations over the garden fence started by a 'how's business'-type question and shared concerns over long-term job security have brought Britons closer together.

More than half said that the fear of redundancies and the rising cost of living meant those who barely knew each other before the recession suddenly had something in common. It also emerged that neighbours are now more likely to socialise with one another compared to five years ago.

Over 40 per cent said they talked to their neighbours about how the recession has affected their families. One in ten said they consider a neighbour a friend now when they wouldn’t have before the recession. Men were more likely than women to talk to their neighbours and more likely to consider a neighbour a friend.

Karen Cullis, head of marketing for Taylor Wimpey, said: “Britons have a reputation for pulling together when times are hard. Shared concerns about the economy and how it is affecting our day to day lives have led to an increase in those ‘over-the-garden-fence’ conversations and encouraged neighbours to look out for each other more. It is interesting that more men than women feel that their relationships with their neighbours are closer since the recession hit.

“Fewer of us today live in the area where we were born and brought up, so family members can often be miles rather than streets away. That makes forging strong communities in the areas where we live all the more important.”

A sense of community camaraderie has also developed with Brits saying that they are more involved in their local area now than before the recession hit. Budget cuts have meant that more than a quarter of homeowners say they have more of an interest in their local community than they did before the recession.

A third also said that they now call their neighbours friends and two thirds now actively look out for their neighbours. Most would feel comfortable calling on a neighbour in an emergency and say they enjoy passing the time of day with them.

The research also revealed that people living in detached homes were more likely to be friendly to their neighbours post-recession compared to those living in flats or cottages.

Karen Cullis said: “It seems that the economic downturn may have given an unexpected boost to David Cameron’s idea of the ‘Big Society’. On many of our developments, where we are building a brand new community from scratch, we find that our residents are very keen to come together to establish a strong sense of community spirit from the outset.”