27 February 2013

New research shows that Londoners are the most likely in the UK to meet a future partner through a neighbour. However, more than two and a half million Londoners don’t know their neighbours by name, with one in three people admitting to being too nervous or too busy to introduce themselves, a study has revealed. 

Research carried out among 3,000 adults by The Big Lunch – a Lottery-funded initiative encouraging neighbours to share a few hours of food, friendship and fun on the first Sunday in June - found that London is the second politest city in the UK with almost one in four people knocking on a neighbour’s door to introduce themselves shortly after they have moved into a new home. However, more than two thirds of those surveyed in London don’t know their neighbours, with 35 per cent having no idea what their names are.

Of those who do know their neighbour, love may be in the air as Londoners are the most likely to meet their future partner through a neighbour than any other UK city, with the research showing that an estimated 400,000 people in the capital meet their partner in this way.

Over half of Londoners believe they would be more likely to know their neighbours had they purchased their house as opposed to renting. Yet, the key reasons holding 40 per cent of Londoners back from knocking next door include being too shy, too nervous and worrying they would be considered odd.

However, the study also found that more than six million Londoners would like there to be more community spirit in their area, with close to five million of those saying it would make people happier and more than half simply wanting to make their area feel safer.

Sir Tim Smit, Co-Founder of The Big Lunch, said:  “There was a time when everyone was very friendly with the people living next door.

“But as time has gone on, this seems to be becoming rarer, and it’s a shame to see that there are many Londoners who haven’t got the time or are too nervous to get to know their neighbours. We’re keen to change this and were delighted when 8.5 million people took part in successful Big Lunches in their communities last June.

“If you get to know your neighbours, not only does it create a happier, safer environment to live in, but you will probably find they are happy to help you out with your pets or water your plants when you go on holiday. You never know, you might even end up with a new best friend, simply from knocking on your neighbour’s door to say hello.”

The study found almost one in four Londoners have never knocked on their neighbours’ doors, and where they have knocked, the main reason has been to collect a parcel.

It emerged that that 37 per cent of London residents don’t think they would have anything in common with their neighbours, although of those that had almost 40 per cent had something surprising happen to them as a result such as making a new friend, being helped when in trouble or even starting a new hobby.

Tony Mitchell, Big Lunch Champion from Bromley said “The Big Lunch is a great opportunity to have fun and get to know your neighbours. It helps to build a real sense of community and provides the chance to meet new people you might not have spoken to otherwise.”

Behavioural Expert, Judi James, said: “It’s staggering that more than two thirds of the people in London don’t know their neighbours, especially when we live in an era of crowded isolation, where we are often communicating with people via e-mail and text, at the same time as suffering feelings of loneliness.

 “There’s no need to feel you’re taking a huge plunge when you start to get to know your neighbours. It’s the ice-breaker effect that is needed to convert strangers into possible friends or acquaintances. We need a good reason for knocking on the door and The Big Lunch is just that, the perfect ice-breaker that gets everyone involved in a positive experience.”

Other key findings in London

  • Londoners are most likely to meet their neighbours within three months of living in a new home with 55 per cent of people having met them by the end of this period
  • Londoners are the least likely city in the UK to knock on a neighbour’s door to go to visit each other with less than 6 per cent of Londoners doing this
  • Only 10 per cent of Londoners would describe their neighbour as a friend
  • Half of Londoners were between the ages of 18-25 when they first started talking to their neighbour or knocked on a neighbour’s door for the first time
  • Almost half of Londoners feel national events like the Jubilee and Olympics made them more likely to engage with their neighbours

Taking place on the first Sunday in June, The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project funded by The Big Lottery Fund, encouraging neighbours across the UK to come together on one day to share a few hours of food, friendship and fun. 

The Big Lunch is a great opportunity to have fun and get to know your neighbours. It helps to build a real sense of community and provides the chance to meet new people you might not have spoken to otherwise.