Whatever the soaps may try and tell us otherwise, we don’t all live in squares or streets where we regularly have a drink, an affair or a bit of fisticuffs with our neighbours.
Far from it, in fact. According to new research by Weber BBQs, less than 5% of us even know our neighbours’ names.
This is both sad and bad on many levels.
On one hand, the happiness levels of knowing your neighbours, of feeling part of a community, are huge.
Research by Brigham Young University has shown loneliness is as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, while a study by the Young Foundation revealed basic wellbeing is higher in people who have regular contact with their neighbours and knowing people in our local area, even if just to say hello, can have a big impact how secure and happy we feel about where we live.
But it’s not just the mental side of things; knowing your neighbour is all about the practical benefits too.
From pushing flyers through an overflowing mail box to saving your life: here are a few reasons you might want to pop round and ‘borrow some sugar’ a little more regularly.
“Taking the time to exchange a friendly word doesn’t just make your neighbourhood a nicer place to live, it can help keep you safer too,” says Neighbourhood Watch chair, Jim Maddan OBE.
“Neighbourhood Watch has been proven to reduce crime in 26% of cases.
“Criminals are less likely to target areas where residents look out for each other as they will go for an easier target – crime is lower in communities where people know their neighbours and care about each other.”
Keep things ticking over
“Neighbours can help stop each other’s properties becoming targets with simple by effective actions like pushing mail into the letterbox, parking their cars in each other’s driveways when houses are unoccupied and even keyholding for each other so they can make homes look occupied when people are away,” adds Maddan.
Save a life
In the case of an accident or emergency, you should call an ambulance. But in the meantime, call your neighbour.
“In a life or death situation, giving a person prompt first aid can dramatically enhance their chances of survival,” says Clive James, Training Officer for St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity.
“For instance, if someone has stopped breathing, they need to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) within three minutes before their brain starts to die. An ambulance takes an average of eight minutes to arrive so the more quickly a cardiac arrest casualty can receive first aid before they receive medical help, the better.
“First aid is a basic skill that anyone can learn and deliver. In an ideal world, everyone should know it including those who are around us the most - neighbours, family, friends and colleagues - to ensure anyone can receive help when they need it the most.”
According to research for RentMyItems – a website that allows neighbours to share products – Brits spend almost £3 billion a year on products they rarely, if ever, use.
£617 million goes on outdoor equipment like camping gear, £426 million on sports equipment like exercise bikes, £360 million on kitchen appliances, £240 million on DIY tools and £140 million on garden tools.
Yet, according to research from community project The Big Lunch, only 38% of UK adults have ever borrowed something from, or lent something to, their neighbours.
Having food to eat might seem like an obvious thing, but it might not be so obvious for your elderly neighbour. Figures from Age UK reveal that while only 8% of those aged 60–64 have difficulty shopping for groceries, this rises to 19% for those aged 80–84 and 60% for those aged over 90. Don’t let them go hungry; offer to pick up food for them when you’re next at the supermarket. Easy for you, potentially life-saving for them.
Do you know your neighbours? Would you ask them for help if you were ever locked out or if you just needed some tea bags? Let us know in the Comments below.