Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do you know your neighbours?

Do you know your neighbours - and if so, do you trust any of them enough to leave your keys with? The reason I ask is that I just found out via an article titled, Thou shalt be neighbourly in The Guardian that yesterday was European Neighbours' Day. Somehow, I doubt that a special day to honour our neighbours will have had little impact on the behavior of people (and that's assuming they knew anything about it since it didn't have much publicity) towards their neighbours. It's interesting to note that the BBC recently produced an article, Are we a nation of strangers? about this subject too. I found it really sad to read that, More than a third (36%) of us would not trust anybody on our street with our keys, according to a survey commissioned by the BBC. From my point of view, I have to say that I'm fortunate because my neighbours are very friendly and trust-worthy. I know my neighbours in three houses on one side, two on the other and three across the street. I would happily give the keys to my house to the people from four of those households. I have an observation about neighbourliness here, from my perspective as an American. I think there is a very strong element of a need for privacy in such a small and crowded island and the fact that houses are built very close together (even the detached houses are) so that fences and high hedges are considered to be necessary, makes it difficult to get to know neighbours. There is some encouraging news though, with an upsurge in community activities, such as RHS Britain in Bloom and the increasing popularity of allotments*. Okay, you might not meet your next door neighbours but you will meet people from your community and that interaction is a positive step forward. It's really true that England is a nation of gardeners and I think that is certainly one good way to encourage neighbourliness. What are your thoughts? Do you think people are interacting less with their neighbours? If you don't know your neighbours, why not? *Did you know that all councils in England & Wales (with the exception of Inner London) have to, by law, provide allotments?


  1. People definitely interact less with neighbours nowadays. I live in a flat and know hardly any of mine.
    At the allotment it's a different story as I've known most to chat with from my first day there.
    The provision of allotments is problematical for many councils and in view of their increasing popularity will become even more newsworthy than they are at present.
    Thanks for an interesting, and informative, entry. xx

  2. Hi flighty, Yes, I can see that it would probably be more of a challenge to get to know your neighbours if you live in a flat.

    Thank you for confirming my view about neighborliness at allotments.(I don't have an allotment myself since I have a very big garden). I think gardening is always a good way to encourage friendship.

    I'm sure providing allotments will become more of a problem like you say which is unfortunate.

  3. I've been here nearly three years now and tried to have and approachable and helpful attitude when I first came but it soon became apparent that the only time the neighbours really wanted to see you was when they wanted something so although I get on okay with them I keep to myself simply to avoid having my good nature abused. However I do trust them and if I did leave the keys with them I'm sure everything would be there when I got back. I'm sure it would all have had a good going over and those that didn't see something for themself would have heard about it from someone who had if you get my meaning. ATB Bob.

  4. Hi Bob, I'm sorry your neighbours don't seem to be particularly friendly. At least you feel that you could trust them with your keys if necessary.