Even if you don’t personally remember, then most will have heard from parents or grandparents of a time when the front door was always open, your neighbours were your best friends on earth, and your local community was like a huge extended family. I certainly recall the kids I went to school with living across the road and as soon as I got home I’d be back out playing with them. My mum could lean out the window and call me in for my tea, similarly she could chastise me if she needed to! If someone needed to pop to the shops they could leave their darling daughter/son knowing that another parent on the street would keep an eye on them.
Fast forward a few decades and the situation is not the same. We may not know or even speak to our neighbours. Busy lifestyles and/or work means that organising a time for kids to meet up to play requires booking in weeks in advance. Working longer hours, using weekends and evenings to get jobs around the house completed and the age of gawping at our computers and smartphones during our precious leisure time means less time is available.
So has our sense of community gone? A recent piece of market research by barbeque makers, Weber, discovered that British people are lacking community spirit, with less than 5% of Brits saying that they know the names of people living on their road. The survey reveals that women are worse than men when it comes to knowing the names of their neighbours. Of the 2,000 respondents, 1 in 5 said that they had actively gone out of their way to avoid a neighbour (ouch!). This has led experts to warn that Britain is in danger of “losing its sense of community spirit”, but I’m not sure that I agree with them.
I have found when the chips are down people will help out. Even though I have intermittent conversations with my neighbour that didn’t stop him getting his ladder out, climbing through an open window to open the door when I’d locked myself out of the house. When I was out a neighbour signed for my delivery rather than send it back to the depot. A mum from my youngest’s class had to travel early for a meeting so her son came to us early in the morning and we took him to school. The feeling is there but I think our basic need to connect is overshadowed by the need to be self sufficient and so we don’t ask for help as often as we need to. Maybe if we stop being such Alpha humans our community spirit will have a chance to shine again. What say you?
Until next month, much sweetness