Good neighbours, pub quizzes and community gardens make the best communities – as Neath Port Talbot, Norwich and Dunfermline are revealed as the top in the UK

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Everyone needs good neighbours and research has revealed that as communities have grown closer over the last few years, the people we live next to are the top of our list when asked what makes us happy in our local neignhourhoods.

Friendly neighbours (28%), feeling a sense of belonging (22%) and free green spaces (11%) came out as the top three elements that Brits look for – with 62% of people saying they are happy living in their community.

The report by community-based retailer SPAR community also revealed that a third of us have lent a hand more since COVID-19 (35%), and 28% said their community had grown closer. Nearly half (42%) also felt they had built relationships with people in their neighbourhood more, including staff at local cafes and shops.

SPAR commissioned the poll of 3,000 UK adults and found the best communities in the country:

  1. Neath Port Talbot
  2. Norwich
  3. Dunfermline
  4. Swansea
  5. Barnsley
  6. Hackney
  7. Derry – Londonderry
  8. Plymouth
  9. Chelmsford
  10. Preston

Nurturing a neighbourhood and helping it thrive was something that over half (57%) found important, saying they

wanted to make a difference and help other people feel like they matter. A third (31%) were involved in activities for local causes such as litter picking and community gardening and 59% said it was important to make other people feel like they matter.

Our favourite get togethers as neighbourhoods are social and fun events, and the clear winner for two thirds of the UK (67%) is a local pub quiz, followed by boot sales (31%) and fitness groups (26%). Over half of us (53%) find out what is going on locally through community run Facebook pages with 15% part of their neighbourhood Whatsapp group.

In Neath Port Talbot the community activities that came out as the most popular included groups that meant neighbours could spend time with friends, have fun and make people feel like they matter.

John Drury, a social psychologist, specialising in the study of collective behaviour at the University of Sussex, commented: “It’s no coincidence that the activities that were found to drive happiness most are all activities that allow people to extend their social circle and form new friendships. Some of the most popular activities locally, such as litter picking and community gardening,  also serve to improve the community environment and produce a virtuous circle of happiness in the local community.”

SPAR stores are at the heart of the communities they serve, and to give shoppers across the UK the chance to make their community better, SPAR are offering grants to help fund programmes, social clubs and charities that give back to the community. The £100k Community Cashback scheme is giving grants to local voluntary or community organisations and charities who need it most. Successful organisations include Bags Full Of Love, an organisation based in West Dunbartonshire that aims to give every child entering foster care a new backpack filled with new comfort and personal care items, and Northumbria Blood Bikes, a charity run by local volunteers who deliver life saving blood platelets and plasma to hospitals across the region.

Suzanne Dover, SPAR UK Brand and Marketing Director, added “Our SPAR stores around the UK believe in nurturing their neighbourhoods and supporting the communities they serve, and we are delighted to be able to supplement their local efforts with this national campaign. This report shows exactly what makes a community and how important things like links with local shops are to help build this connection.  Times are tough for charity and support groups who are looking to fundraise at the moment, and it is great that the £100k Community Cashback scheme can provide deserving local organisations with some extra financial help at this time.”

 

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