22 November 2016

How is your community spirit? York tops the table, with wolves needing neighbourly intervention

New research to launch Bisto Open Door Sunday, a project encouraging neighbours to get together, has unveiled York as the UK city with the highest level of community spirit and Wolverhampton with the least.

Over one in three (35%) British people are not satisfied with the level of community spirit in their neighbourhood, and yet 43% would like to see this increased.

To measure community spirit levels, Bisto teamed up with Dr. Stephanie Alice Baker, Lecturer in Sociology at City, University of London, to devise a 15-step questionnaire assessing social and civic attachments, participation and engagement.

Questions ranged from ‘Does your local pub landlord know your name and your usual order?’ to ‘Would you feel safe leaving your house key with someone in your local neighbourhood?’ 
The results revealed that only a half (50%) of British people know their neighbour’s name and only 29% say hello to them.  A third (34%) do not meet with local friends or family regularly and 39% do not engage in any social activities in their neighbourhood. 

York communities were unveiled as the friendliest: 42% have a neighbour they could call for help if they lost a key, compared to 32% in Wolverhampton.  A quarter engage in social activities in their neighbourhood (25%) or check in and offer help to vulnerable neighbours (26%), compared to 16% and 13% respectively in Wolverhampton.  One in four (25%) have invited a neighbour to their home for a meal in the last year, compared to just one in 10 (10%) in Wolverhampton.

The top 10 UK cities by community spirit:
1.    York
2.    Hull
3.    Belfast
4.    Derby
5.    Plymouth
6.    Wrexham
7.    Newcastle
8.    Swansea
9.    Cardiff
10.    Glasgow

With a quarter (26%) feeling community spirit has decreased in the last five years, some of the main affecting factors include:

-    It isn’t important to the younger generation (31%)
-    Increased working hours (21%)
-    Decrease of small family run businesses (18%)
-    Moving house frequently (17%)
-    Crime rates (16%)
-    Commuting to work (16%)

Dr. Stephanie Alice Baker, Lecturer in Sociology at City, University of London, commented: “There’s a significant body of literature in sociology that discusses the decline of community in the twentieth century.  Arguments of this kind have been intensified by the proliferation of digital devices and social media platforms in the twenty-first century. Our findings suggest that technology is not solely responsible for a decline in community spirit. A series of social and cultural factors have contributed to people’s lack of engagement in their community, including longer working hours, commute times and moving house frequently.
“Trust and friendship is generated by repeated, meaningful social interactions. To increase community spirit, we can start by taking the time to get to know those around us and engaging with them on a regular basis by simply saying hello or sharing a meal together.” 

In a bid to boost community spirit, Bisto has launched Open Door Sunday, encouraging residents to invite their neighbours over for a Sunday meal to get to know each other.
Helen Touchais, Brand Director at Premier Foods, Bisto, said “Whilst the research shows that community spirit across the UK is low, it is encouraging to see that many people want to improve it.  We have been bringing families together around the table for over 100 years, and now we’re encouraging communities to partake in Bisto Open Door Sunday to get to know their neighbours over some good food.  

“You may discover new wonderful friends right on your door step or make a lonely neighbour smile.  A small gesture of a meal invitation could make a significant difference to those around you and make your neighbourhood a happier, closer knit place to live.”

In addition to Bisto Open Door Sunday, Dr. Stephanie Alice Baker has provided top tips for improving community spirit:
1.    Introduce yourself to your neighbours.
2.    Greet the staff at your local shop, pub, and/or cafe. Take the time to have a conversation with them.
3.    Say hello to people on a daily basis in your neighbourhood. For example, on the way to work or during the school run.
4.    Discover the social and civic activities available in your neighbourhood.
5.    Take part in a social activity in your neighbourhood on a regular basis. E.g. join a running club, a parent’s group or participate in a pub quiz.
6.    Consider the issues that are important to you – civic, political and environmental, for example. Join local community groups that represent these issues.
7.    Support your local community by participating in voluntary work.
8.    Try to meet up regularly with friends or family in your neighbourhood.
9.    Invite people from your neighbourhood around to your home for a meal.

If you are interested in hosting your own Open Door Sunday please visit   for more information, a downloadable invitation and further tips on how to improve your community spirit.

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