Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 11:46

Do you know your neighbour? The answer to this question is probably no! Today research conducted by The Big Lunch reveals that only one in five know their neighbours well. One in ten claim to be too shy to even say hello and exchange pleasantries with the people next door. However, 95% believe knowing their neighbour could have a positive impact on their community.

Nearly one in ten of the population have absolutely no idea who even lives next door, with more than half the nation (51%) admitting they should make more of an effort to get to know their neighbours.

Identifying the main reasons behind the lack of contact between neighbours, The Big Lunch research has revealed the most common factors as:

  • Never having a reason to speak and break the ice with their neighbours (19%)
  • Rarely being at home (18%)
  • Being too busy (16%)
  • Too shy to strike up a conversation (13%)

Nearly 25% of Chelmsford residents stated shyness as the main reason behind them not knowing their neighbours, the highest level in the country*1. A quarter of Gloucester residents claim that being too busy is the main factor for their lack of neighbourliness, closely followed by the residents of Oxford (22%), perhaps surprisingly the inhabitants of a usually busy London are down the list*2 in seventh.

In order to build stronger neighbourhood relationships, The Big Lunch, led by the Eden Project, aims to encourage as many people as possible to sit down together with their neighbours for lunch on Sunday 18th July in a simple act of community.

More than two thirds of the nation wish there was more community spirit in their area and 54% of the population claim they would feel safer in their home knowing that their neighbours were looking out for them.

Despite common traits such as shyness and being too busy, an encouraging 63% would consider an event or get-together to encourage their neighbours to get to know each other.

Of those people who do know their neighbours, 58% say they got to know them by chatting over the garden fence, proving a good old-fashioned gossip remains the nation’s favourite way of breaking the ice.

The research also found that the residents of Wolverhampton and Aberdeen are the most neighbourly, with more than 10% claiming to be practically best friends with their neighbours, twice as many as the national average. However York and Southampton could work harder at getting to know those next door with 15% and 12% of residents respectively not having contact with anyone in their community.

Peter Stewart, Campaigns and Communications Director for The Eden Project, said: “What has come through strongly is that we would like to know our neighbours better. It is just that we are often just to shy or too busy to break the ice.

“It’s great to see that so many people (82%) think sharing food and drink is the best way to come together and meet new people in their street. The Big Lunch gives the nation the perfect excuse to take a simple step towards knowing their neighbours and have a great time too.”

Ranging from a simple back garden barbecue to a full-on street party with food, music and bunting that quite literally stops traffic, The Big Lunch aims to bring together communities and provide neighbours with that excuse to knock on the door and say hello.

For a whole menu of ideas on how you can run your own Big Lunch, or to find a Big Lunch in your area, visit