Chances are your neighbourly interactions are limited to occasional moments standing on your doorstep rooting around for your keys, or giving one another an awkward nod on the train now and then. Perhaps you wouldn't even recognise your neighbours if you were at the same party. In large cities like London it’s not uncommon to know nothing about the strangers on the other side of your walls – but should we be making more effort to get to know our neighbours?
According to a recent survey, one in eight adults admitted to not knowing a single one of their closest neighbours’ names – with six million adults in the UK being in this position. The number doubles amongst those aged 16-24, with almost a quarter revealing they know none of their neighbours by name. Unsurprisingly, the situation is at its worst in our notoriously frosty capital, while Wales, Yorkshire and the West Midlands came out top for neighbourly friendliness.
So, are there any benefits to getting to know your neighbours?
Someone To Call On If Things Go Wrong
While it’s never nice to imagine the worst, if disaster strikes while you’re at home and you need help from someone close by, you probably wouldn’t want this to be the first time you ring on next door’s bell. Whether you’ve been locked out, burgled, are worried you’ve been followed home or had an accident and need to get to hospital, it’ll be harder to call on a neighbour for help if you don’t know their name or circumstances. You’ll both feel much more comfortable working together to solve whatever situation has arisen if you’ve already met and are familiar with one another.
A Sense Of Community In An Increasingly Isolated World
A bi-product of the rise of the digital age has been an increase in people experiencing feelings of loneliness, as we rely less on face-to-face communication to feel a sense of community. With just a name you can look someone up on social media, rather than chatting to them in the street or going for a coffee. But is this really satisfying? Meeting over a drink or even a garden wall will help you form a proper relationship – and whether you have a gossip about the batty lady in the flat upstairs or become genuinely close friends, it could prove worthwhile.
Your Security System, Hired Help And Postal Service All Rolled Into One
You don’t have to join an official neighbourhood watch scheme to look out for one another, after a few interactions you’ll know whether you feel comfortable trusting your neighbours with your keys, or whether you could call on them to water plants or feed pets while you’re away. At the same time, being able to trust the house next door to take in your package will relieve you of the misery of returning home to soggy cardboard parcels containing water-logged goods, or worse – losing your packages entirely because the postman left them in the outdoor bin which has now been emptied.
People To Throw Street Parties With
Have you ever walked past a closed-off road in a residential area and looked on at the scene of bunting, stalls, live music and children playing in the street and thought it looked fun? If you get to know your neighbours and find enough like-minded souls, you could be organising your own street party come summer.
So, there’s the value in knowing your neighbours. Here’s how…
Do The Unthinkable And Knock On Their Door
Turning up on a new neighbour’s doorstep with a hamper of baked goods might sound a bit Desperate Housewives – but there’s nothing wrong with dropping by to introduce yourself or calling out a friendly ‘hello’. If the thought of knocking on their door makes you feel awkward, drop a note through the letterbox with your name, house and mobile number, and suggest a cup of tea or a glass of wine.
Hold An Open House
Rather than targeting a particular neighbour or household, why not set up an opportunity to get to know a bunch of neighbours at once? Pop invites through doors up and down your road with time and date encouraging them to come and say hi. It’s fine to avoid the suspicious looking bloke at number 10 but we bet you most people will turn up.
Let Tech Do The Talking
Could it be that neighbours are no longer knocking on each other’s doors because they’re getting to know each other online instead? It’s 2018 after all and there’s an app for practically everything. If you want to see what you’re missing out on, or are looking to take the initiative and forge a sense of community the digital way, these three apps could be the answer:
Street Bank – an app to help you share possessions or skills with your local community.
Team London – use this app to find out about volunteering, mentoring, coaching or skill sharing opportunities in your neighbourhood.
Next Door – this app helps you stay informed about what’s going on in your neighbourhood, whether it’s finding a last-minute babysitter, planning a local event or sharing safety information.