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Frosty neighbours killing off children's sense of community in Northern Ireland, warns report

By Angela Rainey

Published 22/07/2016

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen
Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen

Children in Northern Ireland grow up without a sense of community because of poor neighbourly relations, new research has suggested.

A study by the Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) found that people in rural areas relied more on their neighbours and were more likely to socialise with them than city dwellers.

The research, conducted for the body's Know Your Neighbour campaign, indicated that 71% of adults here felt that children today had less of a sense of community than in the past.

In urban communities, that figure rose to 75%.

Around 14% of city and town dwellers admitted they did not know their neighbours at all. Just 5% of people in rural communities said the same.

People in the countryside were also more outgoing when it came to spending time with others who live nearby, with 21% of residents in rural areas claiming that they loved to socialise with their neighbours, compared to just 11% of people who live in urban areas.

The survey additionally found that 20% of people have had a row with a neighbour - but men were more likely to fall out with them than women.

One of the most common reasons behind disagreements was the use of other people's bins, with 11% owning up to doing so at some point. A further 3% admitted they would do it regularly if they thought they could get away with it.

Urban and rural dwellers were also found to have conflicting priorities, with peace and quiet highlighted by 75% as one of the best things about living in the countryside, but 89% of people in towns and cities believed convenience was king.

But it was not all fights and disagreements as 90% of people said that if they accidentally kicked a ball into their neighbour's garden, it would be handed back.

The YFCU said it hoped its Know Your Neighbour campaign would help foster better community relations. Supporting the drive, Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen added: "Being a good neighbour and having good neighbours is very important to all of us at various stages throughout our lives, but it's especially important for those people living in the more isolated rural areas.

"Young or old, we all appreciate the connection of friendships or just knowing that someone is thinking about us, so this scheme is the perfect reminder to offer some support or friendship to those people living close to us."

"In Northern Ireland, our reputation for friendliness and hospitality is world-renowned, so I would encourage everyone to take part in this campaign to get to know their neighbour and help build an inclusive and happier society."

If you would like to get involved the campaign or organise an event, register for a starter pack by visiting www.know

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