20 April 2020: The Coronavirus outbreak has brought neighbours closer together, with new research* revealing that almost one fifth of Brits (17%, or 8.9m people**), have spoken to their next-door neighbours for the first time.
Some 64% of people are now in contact with their neighbours at least once a week, according to a poll of 2,000 people by UK build-to-rent trailblazer, Get Living, with 53% vowing to make more of an effort to get more involved in their community once the lockdown lifts.
In a sign of how little some neighbours spoke prior to the pandemic, 16% of Londoners (equating to 1.42m people***) even admitted that the NHS ‘Clap for Carers’ was the first time they’d ever seen the people who lived next door.
Get Living commissioned the research after seeing increased community spirit in its own neighbourhoods in London and Manchester, with rapturous clapping every Thursday at 8pm, volunteers helping to deliver essential items, and even an opera singer delivering world class performances from her balcony in East Village, Stratford.
Prior to the outbreak, 26% of Brits didn’t know the name of next-door neighbour. Now, however, 23% of people are helping the elderly and vulnerable in their neighbourhood with essential shopping, 83% have grown to realise they have a close community around them, and 42% are enjoying a natter through closed windows.
A huge 77% of people said they’ve accepted an act of kindness from a neighbour since the lockdown, while people’s respect for the key workers in their community has soared.
More than half (59%) have even more admiration than before for the doctors and nurses working tirelessly for the NHS, while 55% lauded those keeping the peace at supermarkets nationwide. Delivery drivers have also become everyday heroes, with 48% applauding their commitment to ensuring we have our essential items.
What’s more, an impressive 65% have stepped up to support their community, offering help via notes, home-cooked goods or offering to volunteer, with 7% even performing to keep their neighbours entertained.
However, despite the societal upheaval the pandemic has caused, some Brits seem content keeping to themselves: 47% of Brits said they don’t want to engage with their neighbours after social distancing ends.
Ian Gibbs, Director of Neighbourhoods at Get Living said: “Our research showed that people are pulling together during this uncertain time and are looking out for their neighbours. This shows the power of community at its best.
“We’ve been working closely with our communities in London and Manchester, where volunteers are delivering food parcels to those in need in the community. We’ve also been celebrating the acts of kindness we’re seeing in the neighbourhoods, including our retailers providing free meals for NHS workers, helped by resident donations, and one talented resident mezzo soprano treating her neighbours to performances from her balcony.”
“We’d love to see this sense of community spirit continue beyond the coronavirus. After all, who knows when you might need to rely on your neighbours again in the future?”
*Get Living commissioned a survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by 3Gem in April 2020.
**Extrapolation based on a UK adult population of 52.4m per ONS statistics collated in August 2019.
***Based on a London population of 8.9m people.