Lockdown with have physically separated us, but new research has shown that it could be bringing local communities closer together.
Research by pension advice specialist, Portafina, has suggested that local communities are becoming closer and more friendly. In the last few months online searches such as ‘how can I help my neighbour?’ have increased by 50 per cent. The phrase ‘community volunteering’ as seen an even greater uplift, increasing by nearly 200 per cent since last year.
Before the lockdown community spirit in towns and villages was dwindling. 40 per cent of Brits admitted to previously only striking up a conversation with their neighbours because they’d taken in a parcel.
Only a quarter of Brits said that they made the effort to strike up a conversation with their neighbours one or twice a week. Community spirit was found to be higher in smaller villages. In smaller communities, one in five people saw their neighbours as friends.
Pre-lockdown Norwich was found to have the friendliest neighbours, based on time spent chatting with their neighbours each month. In Norwich, neighbours were found to chat for an average of 50 minutes a month.
Glasgow was found to be the second friendliest neighbours, chatting for an average of 43 minutes a month. While Dublin came in second with neighbours chatting for an average of 40 minutes a month.
‘While visiting neighbours for a proper introduction isn’t currently an option, there are ways you can still make yourself known. If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours, consider posting your contact details through the door so they know you’re contactable if they need any support,’ explains Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director of Portafina. ‘There are various downloadable templates that can be used. And with limited access to family and caregivers, this is a gesture that could go a long way with those who need the help.’
‘If you’re new to an area, going out a few minutes early to the weekly Thursday 8 pm NHS clap will help you to meet some of your neighbours while adhering to social distancing,’ Jamie suggests. ‘You’ll instantly have something in common and the conversation will flow easily.’
‘During these unprecedented times, we have seen big disruption to our everyday lives and routines. It is really encouraging to see how well the British public can come together in times of crisis.’