Thursday, 17 June 2010

The bedrock of the garden fence to fall back on The Sunday Times published a piece this morning about a major survey conducted for Co-Operatives UK. It offers a few unsatisfying titbits about material which is not yet published and not covered by anyone else as far as I can see. Not a word on the Co-Ops site. So what have we got to go on? The number of people willing to keep an eye on the elderly or disabled in their neighbourhood has risen. Neighbourliness has declined significantly over nearly 30 years. The number of people who say they suffer from loneliness has more than doubled (presumably over the same 30 year period). The average number of neighbours known to respondents has fallen sharply. In 1982, nearly half believed they knew by name at least 11 neighbours and a quarter knew 20 or more. Now, even the most neighbourly Britons — those in Scotland — know an average of only 8.4 neighbours. Apparently the report judges neighbourliness 'by measuring the number of people helped by their neighbours divided by the number whose neighbours have caused them problems.' So you could have a positive, a zero, or a negative score. I've been thinking about what that means since I read it at 0700 this morning. I suppose it treats neighbouring in proactive and not passive terms, but you gotta start somewhere. It will be interesting to find out. 'Knowing by name' is a poxy proxy for neighbouring, but it sounds like they may have used the same wording in a previous survey for comparison, so would be valid to some extent. Oh and then there's this little gem, quoting Co-Ops UK secretary-general Ed Mayo: 'There is not that bedrock of the garden fence to fall back on.' I doubt if Ed would have said this, more likely it's been mangled by a PR writer for him, and I thank them.

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