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Family Groups - Impact on neighbours

Why alarms and locks cannot take the place of neighbours
By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent
(Filed: 24/05/2004)

Neighbourliness is in such decline in Britain that less than half of people surveyed would call on their neighbours in an emergency, according to a report published today.
Although most people would like a return to the days of close-knit communities, two thirds believe that their neighbours are becoming more distant.
Not only is erosion of trust a growing problem, but 16 per cent of people see their neighbours only in passing, and one in 20 admits they do not know their neighbours at all.
However, most people still believe that stronger neighbourhoods can help cut crime or support people in times of trouble.
Phil Loney, managing director of Lloyds TSB Insurance, which commissioned the research by ICM among 1,008 people, said: "None of us will ever live on Ramsey Street [the fictional setting for the Australian soap opera Neighbours].
"But, surprisingly, very few of us are willing to make the most of the neighbours we do have. It is ironic that as we find ourselves living in closer quarters with our neighbours, our relationships are becoming even more distant."
While most people have become accustomed to changes in the social landscape, they have not abandoned their idea of close-knit communities.
More than nine out of 10 people believe closer communal ties would have a positive impact on their lives.
Two thirds said stronger bonds would make it easier to turn to neighbours for help or in an emergency, while a quarter believed it would cut crime.
However, in reality, most people were resigned to the fact that communities were fragmenting.
More than 60 per cent blamed the pressures of family life and work, while four in 10 deliberately kept their distance to avoid getting too involved in their neighbours' affairs.
One in five claimed they lived next door to the "neighbours from hell".
Mr Loney said: "It is worrying that although we recognise the benefits of close neighbourhoods, the pressures of modern life are getting in the way. We should have alarms, locks and insurance but we do seem to be neglecting the simplest security technique - a quick hello to the people next door."
Martin Lloyd Elliot, a psychologist at the Eden Medical Centre in Chelsea, central London, said: "We are social creatures. Our whole way of life is based on community and co-operation and yet, because of our fear of others, people seem to be afraid to make the first move.
"The danger is that by disconnecting from our neighbours, we isolate ourselves and this perpetuates the fear and mistrust we have of others. It becomes a vicious spiral."

Daily telegraph 24th May 2004

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