Report finds growing number of Scots don’t know their neighbours

Nearly a quarter of Scots have never spoken to their neighbours and the vast majority would never introduce themselves to a new neighbour, a new report on the relationships people have with their communities reveals.

Around 40 per cent of Scots don't know the names of their neighbours, according to a new report. Picture: John Devlin

“Closing the Distance Between Us” shows how connections outside close friends and families have been seriously eroded thus reducing communities’ ability to cope in a crisis.

The figures also show 40 per cent of people do not know their neighbours’ names.

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The research, commissioned for the Big Lunch charity, involved researchers studying trends over the past 60 years, supplemented by a survey of 4,000 adults in the UK.

The report identified the problem as occurring at a time when public services which underpin communities were under stain because of austerity and the current political and cultural upheaval.

It also noted that “at the same time family relationships and friendships have dissipated because of changes in how we work live and interact.

“In order to bring people together, we need a serious step-change, the chasm needs to be filled and the issues addressed, before our communities become even more fragmented.”

However, despite the breakdown in relationships 70 per cent of those questioned north of the border said they believed it was better for communities if people know their neighbours. A total of 61 per cent of respondents said they would say ‘yes’ if a neighbour invited them round for tea.

Sandra Brown is Scotland communities manager of Eden Project Communities, which is behind the Big Lunch initiative that see approximately six million people in communities across the UK sit down for a meal, snack or coffee together over the first weekend in June.

She said: “In Scotland we’re definitely finding this yearning for community. We’ve had the same response from people all over the country, whether it be in the Highlands, Orkney, Thurso or Dundee.

“There’s an awareness of something we ‘used to’ have or feel we used to have. While there may be some nostalgia involved this doesn’t detract from the overwhelming feeling that people want things to change.

“The Big Lunch is the way to start getting neighbours and people together.

“But not everyone has the time, energy or resources to organise a lunch, so it can be flexible – tea, coffee and biscuits at anytime during the year, or a picnic, for just a couple of people or a group.”

The Big Lunch, sponsored by the National Lottery, is now in its 10th year.