Community spirit thriving as eight in ten Brits would come together in times of need

25 July 2018

  • Two thirds say there’s a strong sense of community where they live: East Midlands comes out top
  • Just under six in ten socialise with neighbours and almost one in five consider them close friends
  • Over four in ten rely on their neighbour and just under a quarter has a neighbour that relies on them
  • Taking in the post, collecting a parcel and watching the house while away tops neighbourly gestures
  • Ways to build community spirit include helping elderly neighbours and raising money for local charities

In the growing age of social media, where face to face conversation often takes a back seat, new research from Nationwide Building Society shows that community spirit is far from dead, with neighbours regularly socialising and coming together to help each other.

The poll reveals that around eight in ten (79%) respondents believe British people have community spirit and would come together in times of need. And more than two thirds (68%) say there is a strong sense of community where they live, while eight in ten (86%) believe being part of a community is important.

The survey of 2,000 adults was undertaken to highlight the importance of everyday people helping everyday people to do the things they can't do alone - the founding principles of Nationwide Building Society through the generations. It found that more than four in ten (44%) have a neighbour they can rely on, a quarter (23%) have a neighbour that relies on them and seven in ten (71%) are confident in asking a neighbour for help if they needed to.

Being a good neighbour is at the heart of building a strong community and, contrary to the conception that people don't know their neighbours nowadays, the Nationwide poll shows that over half (59%) regularly socialise with their neighbours, with over a quarter (28%) doing so more than once a week. Nearly one in five (18%) class their neighbours as close friends and nearly half (46%) have stayed in touch with their neighbours after they have moved to a new house.

Top neighbourly gestures include taking in the post (35%), picking up a parcel (33%), watching the house while away (28%), putting out the bins (25%), giving door keys for emergencies (18%), watering the plants (15%) and looking after pets (13%).

The most common ways that neighbours create community spirit, according to the poll, include helping elderly or disabled neighbours (25%), welcoming someone new into the local area (23%), helping neighbours during bad weather (21%), searching for a lost pet (20%), helping a neighbour after a death or sudden illness in the family (18%), raising money for a local charity (14%) or hosting local events (10%).

Brits would be willing to go out of their way to build neighbourly relationships, including giving away items to their neighbour that they would otherwise sell (37%), lending items they wouldn't normally (31%), forgoing home improvements, like an extension, to avoid conflict (13%), while seven per cent would even consider selling their home below the asking price to ensure they get the right people moving into the community.

When looking at which region came out top for community spirit, East Midlands topped the poll, with 72 per cent of respondents saying there is a strong sense of community in their area, followed by Yorkshire and Humberside, the North East, London and the South West. The poll also shows that those aged 16 to 24 could be leading the way when it comes to being neighbourly when compared to those in the 45 to 54 age bracket. More young people think community spirit is important (91% vs 80%), are active in the local community, helping in one way or another (77% vs 58%) and they are more willing to go out of their way for a neighbour if it means a stronger community spirit (86% vs 76%).

Sara Kinsey, Nationwide Building Society's Head Archivist, said: "It's great to see in modern day Britain that a strong sense of community spirit still exists - even small neighbourly acts of kindness can make a big difference to people's lives. It dispels the myth about community spirit being an old-fashioned concept. As the research shows, it is very much alive and kicking in 2018 – just as it was when we were founded in 1846.

"People coming together to do good things for each other, helping make other's lives better, is at the origins of how Nationwide Building Society began - the idea of a Mutual Society enabling ordinary, working class people to save and borrow money for land and materials with which to build their own homes. While times may have changed, the same needs still exist today."

On Monday 2 July, Nationwide Building Society launched its latest advert, telling the story of the very first building society and highlighting the importance of everyday people helping everyday people. The new advert sees a debut for a new poet to Nationwide, Stephen Morrison-Burke, from Birmingham.

Notes to Editors:

1Research by Censuswide: total sample size was 2,000 adults. The survey ran from the 27.06.2018 to 29.06.2018

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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