With more of us living alone, an increase in communication via e-mail and text and feelings of loneliness on the rise, research carried out among 2,000 adults by The Big Lunch has found that the simple act of talking to your neighbour is seen by those questioned in North West as not only a way to ‘brighten someone’s day’ 34% but as a ‘lifeline’ for those who live alone 30%
The study - carried out by Lottery funded initiative The Big Lunch - the UK’s annual get together for neighbours – found that for more than one in twenty in the North West talking with a neighbour is one of the highlights of their day.
21% of those questioned in the North West say they are flattered by the interest when a neighbour makes the effort to talk to them.
Over a quarter say it makes them feel that they matter and are less invisible and two thirds of people said it makes them feel happier.
Tracey Robbins, Programme Manager, Neighbourhood Approaches to Loneliness, from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said, “We know from past work that our relationships are central to our wellbeing. We’ve recently undertaken work within four neighbourhoods around loneliness and it was evident that ‘kindness in communities’, connectedness and those informal support networks are key to reducing loneliness and isolation for ourselves, our friends, neighbours and our local communities. It could happen over a cup of tea, if someone has something on their mind and needs to share it," she adds. "Many of these things are everyday invisible acts, ‘gifts of time’ which almost go unnoticed. People tend not to stop and think too much about the value they have.”
The Big Lunch research highlights that there is more to be done when it comes to making small talk with our neighbours as one in twenty say they have never engaged in small talk with a neighbour, while another one in twenty admits it’s been years.
Clinical Psychologist Tanya Byron commented, “It is very easy to trivialise 'small talk' as tedious and time wasting, but in fact taking the time to have meaningful but minimal interactions is very important. These are the conversations that have meaning and benefit our immediate community and wider society. They are free, take no time and are impactful. These moments are humanising and are an important acknowledgement of the individual. In taking the trouble to talk to your neighbour you may also be helping to reduce their sense of loneliness.”
The small talk that happens in communities is a lifeline for many and The Big Lunch is calling on everyone in the UK to boost the conversations happening in streets and gardens nationwide.
Chatty neighbours are being encouraged to host a Big Lunch event in their communities on Sunday 1 June to spread small talk further and build community bonds.
Anyone interested in organising a Big Lunch in their area is invited to request a free Big Lunch pack from www.thebiglunch.com to get their events off the ground.
Paul Selby’s street in Manchester has been holding Big Lunches since the beginning in 2009. Paul, from Brooklands Home Watch & Residents Association comments: “We have found that The Big Lunch has helped us create a better place to live, our children know each other, and there is a sense of belonging and caring about the place we all call home.”
The Big Lunch – made possible by the Big Lottery Fund - is expecting millions of people to take part on Sunday 1 June 2014.
For more information about holding a Big Lunch request a free pack online at www.thebiglunch.com.
Packs contain invitations and posters to adapt for your community, as well as seeds, a bunting template and an inspiration booklet with lots of ideas and info to help get you started.