UK: Six million UK adults don't know any of their neighbours by name

The average UK adult knows just four of their neighbouring households by name, a study from Aviva reveals today.

  • Only a quarter of people would class neighbours as ‘close friends’ 
  • But many would trust neighbours with keys, homes, children and pets
  • Almost half of people feel knowing neighbours can make them happier
  • One in five people would like to get to know their neighbours better

One in eight people surveyed say they know none of the names of their closest neighbours, equating to more than 6 million UK adults in this position1.

The proportion of people who don’t know their neighbours doubles amongst those aged 16-24, with almost a quarter (24%) saying they know none of them by name.

Similarly, less than a quarter of UK residents (24%) say they would call any of their neighbours ‘close friends’, although this does increase slightly with age, to 29% amongst over 55s. People from the West Midlands are mostly likely to call their neighbours close friends, while those in Wales are least likely (see full regional breakdown in notes to editors2).

The study questioned 2,000 adults across the UK as part of a focus on home security during the summer holiday season. Data shows that between spring and summer burglaries rise by 5% across the UK, to more than 34,000 a month3.

Trust is strong within UK communities However, in spite of this apparent lack of intimacy, the study found that trust is strong amongst UK communities. Nearly three quarters (73%) would trust a neighbour to look after a delivery for them, 38% would trust a neighbour with a spare set of keys and 36% would be happy for a neighbour to look after their home while on holiday.

Amongst pet owners, 40% would trust a neighbour to care for their animals, and 31% of parents questioned would be happy for neighbours to look after their children.

Neighbours help people to feel happier More than half of people questioned (52%) said that knowing neighbours can make people feel safer in their homes, while 47% agreed that being acquainted with neighbours can make them feel happier. One in five people (20%) said they would like to get to know their neighbours better.

And in spite of not always knowing people by name, there is apparently an abundance of goodwill amongst communities, with four fifths of people questioned saying they help out their neighbours with a wide variety of tasks, from looking after homes while people are on holiday (23%), keeping a spare set of keys (21%) and looking after pets (11%) (see notes to editors4).

Adam Beckett, Propositions Director for Aviva says: “People are more mobile than in previous generations, so it’s easier to see friends and family who don’t live nearby. This, combined with the pace of modern life, can mean that we don’t always know the people who live closest to us.

“However, our research shows that there can be real benefits to getting to know neighbours, both practically and emotionally. It’s great to have people who can look out for one another - as well as their homes and belongings - and provide support when needed. This in turn can have a really positive effect on people’s wellbeing.

“As the holiday season approaches, it can be a good idea for people to have a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on the inside and outside of their house while they are away. Checking inside for anything unusual like a water leak can also prevent or reduce any possible damage. Holidays are a great opportunity to escape, and there can be even greater peace of mind, knowing that someone is keeping a look-out on things back home.”

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Media Enquiries: Aviva Press Office | Sarah Poulter | 07800 691569 | | @sarahpoulter

Notes to editors:
Figures are taken from research carried out by Censuswide in June 2017. 2000 adults from across the UK were surveyed online. People were asked to consider the 10 houses / apartments closest to them when considering their nearest neighbours.

1. Calculations are based on ONS data: Mid population estimates, 2015. For the purposes of this study, adults are classed as aged 16+. ONS data shows that the UK population 65,110,000, of which 81.2% (52,869,320) are aged 16 and older. Twelve percent of this figure equates to more than 6 million people: (6,344,318).

2. Data provided by Canary security systems, based on ONS data.

3. The table below details the proportion of people from key regions who would class any of their neighbours as ‘close friends’.

UK region  Percentage of respondents who would class and of their neighbours as ‘close friends’
West Midlands 31%
North West  29%
Northern Ireland 28%
Scotland 27%
London 26%
South West 25%
East Midlands 25%
North East 23%
East 23%
South East 21%
Yorkshire and the Humber  19%
Wales 12%
UK 24%

4. The table below details a variety of tasks which people carry out for their neighbours and percentage of people who carry out each of these tasks.

Task carried out to help neighbour  Proportion of people who do this for neighbours
Take in parcels / deliveries 63%
Look out for their house/flat if they were away, even without being asked 28%
Look out to check their home is safe and secure  23%
Look after their homes while on holiday  23%
Look out for their general wellbeing 23%
Look after a spare set of keys 21%
Look after pets 12%
Run errands / do shopping 11%
Help with gardening 9%
Look after children 6%
Help with jobs around the house 5%
Cook a meal 3%

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