Britain is a nation at war with each other, according to new research, with one in four admitting to arguing with their neighbours.
Bust-ups are happening on an almost daily occurrence over land boundaries, noise and trees, the study found, with car parking, loud music and pets key aspects of contention. Rows have also started over bonfires, anti-social behaviour and building work.
But when they aren’t arguing, it also emerged half of UK adults barely know those next door, with three in ten admitting they wouldn’t recognise their neighbours if they bumped into them away from home. And four in tem have deliberately avoided their neighbours on at least one occasion.
The research was commissioned by retirement housebuilder, Churchill Retirement Living to find out what people think of their neighbours. Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, Churchill Ambassador and founder of The Silver Line, said: “We have a huge loneliness epidemic in this country.
“And looking out for those next door to us can be a big step towards curing it – especially if they are older people who might be feeling isolated or not as active as they used to be.
“Although it’s a sad fact of life that not everyone gets on with their neighbours all the time, it’s also encouraging to see that most of us can still see the value of getting to know our neighbours better.
“I have personally witnessed the benefits a strong sense of community can bring, and we can all do something to make that difference to the people who live around us.”
The average Brit knows six of their neighbours by name –although this falls to just four among those aged 34 and under. And eight in 10 over-55s exchange Christmas cards with those living next door yet less than half of 18-24 year olds do the same.
But nine in 10 over-55s who don’t know their neighbours would like to get to know them better – compared with just 71 per cent of 18-24 year olds. And 84 per cent think people should do more to get to know their neighbours — with three quarters believing it is important to get on well with them.
Researchers also found 43 per cent have elderly neighbours, with half of those anxious they might get lonely. A fifth say they have been concerned for their neighbours at some point, with health problems, age and loneliness the most common worries, and half think there is a no sense of community in their neighbourhood.
Yet less than a third of people would ever consider inviting their neighbours around for a meal or social gathering. Six in 10 respondents would prefer it if their neighbours kept themselves to themselves and 14 per cent don’t know even what their neighbour’s name is.
And over a fifth of people have forgotten their neighbours name but found it too awkward to ask them what it is. Around half of Brits described their relationship with their neighbours as ‘neutral’ – neither friendly or unfriendly and less than a fifth are friends with their neighbours on social media.
Churchill Retirement Living’s Chairman & CEO, Spencer McCarthy, said: “It’s perhaps no surprise that the older generation are more inclined to be friendly towards their neighbours and value a strong sense of community.
“I’ve witnessed this at our retirement living developments, where we bring good neighbours together to share a more sociable and fulfilling lifestyle in their retirement.
“But there is hope yet for the younger generation too. We all have busy lives, but we can all take small actions that make a difference to the people living around us.
“The evidence from our research suggests that there are plenty of people of all ages willing to embrace that and be better neighbours.”