The rise of the next door stranger
Published 16/08/2010 | 11:57
Everybody needs good neighbours - but millions of Britons distrust theirs and are more friendly with online friends, new research has revealed.
More than one quarter (27%) admit to feeling suspicious of those who live near them while almost half (44%) feel they do not share the same values as them, the poll showed.
Most people (59%) believe they have little in common with their neighbours, making it unsurprising that the majority (61%) never socialise with them, according to a study carried out by Legal & General.
The study, called Next Door Strangers, paints a picture of a nation whose sense of community is disappearing. It has been replaced instead by a climate of distrust - and a denial of the idea that neighbours should be there for one another, the report indicated.
Most Britons (70%) do not know their neighbours' names and would not recognise them if they passed them in the street.
Many people are far more friendly instead with online pals they have never even met, with 34% of social networkers saying they were friends with others on Facebook or follow people on Twitter who fit into this category. Only 19% are online friends with a neighbour.
But Neighbourhood Watch insisted the UK's sense of community was alive and well.
Roy Rudham, chairman of the UK Neighbourhood Watch Trust, said: "People are still getting to know their neighbours, still looking out for their neighbours and looking after their neighbours' houses when they go on holiday.
"If you live on a long street, there will always be people you don't know but that doesn't mean there's no sense of community any more."