Why less than half of us trust the neighbours


Car wary of street party bunting

Researchers have revealed that less than half of us trust our neighbours - and that more than a quarter don't even know who lives next door. And the problem is only going to get worse - as younger people are the least likely to trust their neighbours.

So how did things get so bad, and why is this going to hurt you personally?

Lack of trust

The research, from the Yorkshire Building Society, found that only 46% of people trust the people living closest to them, while 26% don't know the person living next door. And young people are the biggest culprits: almost two-thirds of people aged 55 or older said they trust their neighbours, but less than a third of adults under 25 do.

We're desperately unwelcoming too. One in ten people admitted being suspicious of new residents, with another 14% saying they were less trusting of people from outside their own communities.

Chris Pilling, Yorkshire Building Society's Chief Executive, said: "The UK has always been very proud of its community spirit but it seems neighbourliness is not as prevalent as we might think."

So how did we get here?

Part of the reason is clear from the regional breakdown. Scottish and Welsh residents were the most community-minded, with 39% of householders in both countries willing to make new people feel at home, compared to only 13% in London.

London has two problems which are common to the rest of the country - but are on a dramatically magnified scale.

The first is that people move so frequently. People who are renting have to move because the rents increase so frequently and they need to move on: home-owners move because either their work has moved, or their family has outgrown their home and they cannot afford to trade up in the same area. There are parts of London, where it's common for most people to move every two years - decimating community spirit.

Prof Karen Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire's School of Psychology, said: "Social mobility is increasing and fewer people are being raised in and living in close-knit communities. This means people are increasingly less likely to form strong bonds with the people who live near them. Many younger people create communities on-line these days, rather than with their neighbours."

The other issue is that so many people commute so far to work. Those who live in London tend to have two wage-earners, as it's the only way to afford the capital. They also have a commute of anything up to an hour in each direction. Once you have factored eating, cleaning, working and sleeping into the working week, there's no time to meet anyone in the area.

But why does it matter?

You could argue that not knowing your neighbours is no major problem. However, there are three reasons why we need to work harder on our community spirit:

1. You need to protect one another. If your neighbours know who is supposed to be in your property - and when - then anything unusual will be spotted. If no-one knows you from Adam, thieves could load up a removal van with your property without turning heads.

2. You need to protect the area together. Once no-one cares about an area, it doesn't take long for the graffiti, anti-social noise and fly tipping to start - after-all if you don't know someone, why should you care about upsetting them? Neighbours need to work together to keep the area cared for.

3. You need each other for the little things: whether it's taking in a parcel or putting out the bins while you're on holiday, good neighbours are worth a small fortune. Surely it's worth investing a bit of time getting to know them.

House photos guaranteed to put buyers off

House photos guaranteed to put buyers off

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