Just in time for December, the BBC has commissioned some research that shows that even the loneliest community in 1971 wasn’t as lonely as the strongest community in 2001, with Edinburgh and London being the loneliest cities and Stoke-on-Trent being the strongest community.
Purely coincidentally, I’d rate Edinburgh and London as being some of the best places to live in the UK, and Stoke-on-Trent as probably one of the less brilliant places.
I used to live in North Wales, which is undoubtedly one of the most “connected” places in terms of a sense of place, belonging and community. Their parents lived round the corner, their grandparents lived round the next hill, so there was definitely a sense of long-term continuity. And I hated it. The locals did their best and were warm and welcoming – far more than their counterparts would be in London, Edinburgh and Manchester – and yet all that did was exacerbate the feeling I had that I had very little in common with my neighbour.
The researchers are blaming the sense of loneliness and a loss in the community on a transient population, and note that community is less prevalent in university areas. Which means, in other words, that people who try to get “educated” are ruining it for the communities at large. If this is true, how long will it be before Britain’s “tall poppy” syndrome means we no longer value “brains”, but ignorance and staying home instead? Until, in other words, we end up like parts of the United States…
To count the sense of loneliness, the researchers based it on the number of single-people households in a given area. The more single-people households there were, the more lonely the community would be, went that theory. But I’m pretty sure that many areas are full of couples who don’t know their neighbours, their local butcher or even their local pub, whereas single people would probably make more of an effort to know their neighbour, butcher, or publican.
In other words, I’m not sure about this survey