Measures to stay at home have led to a surge in neighbourliness as people look out for the vulnerable and talk to those next door more than ever before, according to a new study released today by Co-op Insurance.

Following the Government’s instruction to stay at home in light of COVID-19, it seems neighbours really are becoming good friends.

Almost three quarters (72%) of UK adults can now identify which of their neighbours are vulnerable and over a quarter (26%) have checked in on those whom they know are in the last two weeks.

A fifth (21%) say they have spoken to their neighbours more in the past two weeks and, one in ten (10%) say they have got to know them more.

Despite not being able to spend time physically with neighbours, a sixth (16%) of UK adults say their relationship has become better in the last two weeks. 

Highlighting the lengths people are going to in order to stay in touch, two fifths (42%) of people have spoken to their neighbours over a garden fence or a wall.

Almost a fifth (18%) say they have chatted online or over the phone to their neighbours in the last two weeks and a further sixth (16%) have dropped off essential food and medicine for them.  

The different ways people are keeping in touch with neighbours over the last two weeks:

  • Almost half (46%) have spoken to their neighbours in the street at a distance
  • Two fifths (42%) have chatted to them over a fence or wall
  • Over a quarter (28%) have waved at their neighbours through a window
  • A quarter (26%) have checked to see if they need anything
  • 18% have spoken to them on the phone or online
  • 17% have spoken to them about the Government’s advice to stay at home
  • 12% have dropped off shopping for them
  • 4% have dropped off essential medication

Furthermore, the study shows technology is playing a huge part in keeping communities in contact. In the last two weeks alone, a sixth (17%) of people have received new contact details for their neighbours, ensuring they can keep in touch during this time.

Caroline Hunter, Head of Co-op Home Insurance, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that so many people are looking out for one another during this time of crisis. For the last two years we’ve recognised and celebrated the UKs best neighbours and it’s so encouraging that at such a difficult time people across communities are stepping up to help their neighbours more so now than ever before.”

The study is the Co-op’s third to investigate the changing nature of neighbourhoods and what it means to be a good neighbour, something that Nilesh Chohan from Headingley, Leeds, know all about after being crowned Neighbour of the Year in 2019.

Nilesh Chohan, Co-op Insurance’s Neighbour of the Year 2019, said: “We all play an important role to make sure that those who are on their own and lonely, especially the most vulnerable, are safe in their homes.

“Little things like saying hello over a garden fence, waving at a neighbour through a window or getting in touch to see if they need any essential food dropping off outside, may not seem like a lot but will make the world of difference to those who may be struggling during the pandemic.”

John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, said: “At Neighbourhood Watch we believe that building strong communities where neighbours look out for each other is key and it’s good to be reminded of the ordinary people who make our nation great even in the most trying of times.

“The kind, everyday deeds of neighbours help create safe, secure and happy neighbourhoods where people, families and communities thrive and it’s times like these that communities need to stick together and look out for one another.”

To help reduce the impact of coronavirus measures on the mental wellbeing of millions of people, the Co-op has launched an online community centre, Co-operate, which encourages communities to come together online, until the time comes when neighbours can once again spend time with one another.