Neighbour of the Year 2020 by Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch
For the third year running, we’re launching a nationwide search in partnership with our friends at Neighbourhood Watch to find and celebrate some of the UK’s best neighbours.
Our members have told us that to be a great neighbour people share these qualities: a willingness to look out for others, being sociable and friendly, offering practical help and being kind, caring and respectful.
In addition to our Neighbour of the Year Award, this year we have a brand-new category: Co-op’s Young Neighbour of the Year. This award will be celebrating someone up to 21 years old who has gone above and beyond to help enhance their community and has brought people, young and old, together.Close
Neighbour of the Year 2019 – Nilesh Chohan
Nilesh Chohan from Headingley, Leeds was crowned 2019’s Neighbour of the Year, thanks to his dedication to bringing his neighbours together. Having lived on his street for 35 years, Nilesh is a true pillar of his community, and has set up a residents group to keep people informed and connected.
As part of creating an inclusive community, he holds regular “Welcome to all Residents” street events where he serves pakoras and onion bhajis, and provides new residents with local information, whilst providing a platform for neighbours – new and old – to get to know each other. He’s even started a ‘get to know your neighbour campaign’ which encourages all different kinds of residents – whether that’s students, families, or professionals – to get to know each other by knocking on each other’s’ doors and introducing themselves.
A few years ago he and a team of residents, came together to pot bulbs in containers and donate these to over 100 local homes. And his neighbourly acts don’t stop there – over the past six years, Nilesh has held eight charity curry nights in aid of various charities, raising over £10K to date!Close
When you think about it – we all have one thing in common. We are all neighbours.
And the good news is that we seem to be getting better at it. The research from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch shows that most of the key indicators which measure being a good neighbour have improved since 2018.
I feel like I fit the research description well. I know my neighbours well enough to say hello to, wave at them in the street and I keep an eye on them. But I don’t really socialise with them.
I think that is OK – especially in this day and age where we are so busy. Nobody wants a ‘nosey neighbour’ keeping an eye on their business – but we all want to feel that someone is looking out for us or will give us a helping hand if we really need it, don’t we?
For instance – I once needed to travel to London and, typically, my car broke down that morning. It was for a really important meeting and I desperately didn’t want to be late. I suddenly felt very stressed and worried that I would miss it. For context, I live in an area where taxis don’t really travel out to. I saw one of my neighbours and they offered to run me to the station which made a huge difference to my day.
Even though this might feel like a small gesture to some – to me this was absolutely huge. And that seems to be the key – these seemingly ‘small’ gestures have a huge impact on us.
Since doing this campaign, many people have asked me – how do you build a relationship with your neighbours? My advice is to keep it simple. The research says that we are doing things like taking in parcels for our neighbours and popping over to deliver them. Next time you do this – maybe just spend a moment to introduce yourself. I think you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it could make to you, them and your community.
We all want to be ‘quiet’ and ‘courteous’ – it feels very ‘British’ to me. We don’t want to disturb anyone as we go about our daily business – but I think it’s time to change that… a little bit.
Gardening for me has always been a great ice breaker. You don’t need to be an expert but it can start a straightforward conversation about the lawn or hedges or a flower you particularly like. It could be that the rain will really benefit the garden… and let’s face it is almost always raining so that feels safe. I find that then the conversation moves into other areas like ‘Ah you are the one that lives at Number 7’ and that opens up to help us get to know each other a bit more.
We see, hear and feel that the country is ‘divided’ every single day. But, isn’t it encouraging that on the ground we are coming together. We are getting better and doing small things to help each other out.Close
Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch crowned Paul Zeun from Sheffield 2018’s Neighbour of the Year for his consistent caring and neighbourly behaviour.
Paul was nominated by his neighbour, Abby Wilson who first met Paul when she locked herself out of her flat 10 years ago and he helped her to get back in. They have been friends ever since.
Over the past decade, Paul has helped her to redecorate her new flat, taken her to A&E and picked her up from hospital several times. He also feeds her cats when she goes away, takes in parcels and even brings in the washing when it rains.
Paul has cared for terminally ill neighbours and looks after his other neighbours by doing the shopping for those who can’t, shares his DIY skills and looks after people’s pets. He originally instigated and continues to organise communal themed BBQ’s and Christmas fancy-dress parties.
Abby said: “Paul has done so much for me and the wider community over the years and he’s an extremely deserving winner. He has been instrumental in developing real friendships that have blossomed throughout the neighbourhood.
“Paul’s kindness and generosity is and always has been felt, even when he himself is in need or having difficult times. Paul’s door is always open to the neighbours and he’s there to cheer you up when you’re feeling blue.”
Commenting on the award win, Paul said: "I was totally overwhelmed when I found out that I had won this award. I enjoy helping people and getting to know everyone in the neighbourhood - I believe that if we all did this, the world would be a much happier place!"Close
Read all about the annual study which last year revealed the nation’s thoughts on what makes a good neighbour and explored the relationships people have with those close by.
All is quiet on the home front, as neighbourly traits are revealed.
- Fifth of homeowners and renters don’t know all their neighbours
- Parking revealed as the top neighbour irritant, followed by dogs barking, and noise
- Taking parcels in, being quiet, and keeping an eye on a neighbour’s property top the list as most neighbourly traits
Nine out of ten homeowners and renters (87%) believe that they are good neighbours, yet less than a fifth (18%) say they know all of them, according to a new study from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch1.
The annual study reveals the nation’s thoughts on what makes a good neighbour and explores the relationships people have with those close by, for the second year running.
Just a fifth (18%) of UK homeowners and renters said they get along with their neighbours more now than they did five years ago. Whereas last year, almost a third (30%) said they had a better relationship with their neighbours than they had five years previous.2
The study also reveals a shift away from neighbours becoming friends as just a fifth (22%) said they’d love to be friendlier with their neighbours. Previously, almost a third (31%) of homeowners and renters wanted this to be a reality.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the year-on-year research shows that as a nation, we are becoming more polite and aware of our neighbours. Three fifths (61%) of people claim to be quiet and courteous towards their neighbours compared to half (51%) that said the same last year.
Furthermore, the research shows what we believe to be the most important traits of a good neighbour. Taking parcels in on behalf of another tops the list, with three quarters (74%) saying this is something they think makes them good neighbours.
Being quiet and courteous is something that three fifths (61%) say they do to help their neighbours out, whilst over half (57%) keep an eye on their neighbour’s property when they’re not in.
Also high on reasons UK homeowners and renters believe they are good neighbours is the fact that they’re not nosey (43%), they’re courteous about where they park their car (42%) and they take their neighbours’ bins in and out (37%).
|1||They take parcels in||74%|
|2||They’re quiet and courteous||61%|
|3||They keep an eye on a neighbour’s property when they’re not there||57%|
|4||They’re not nosey||43%|
|5||They’re courteous about where they park||42%|
|6||They take the bins in and/or out for neighbours||37%|
|7||They keep to themselves||31%|
|8||They do odd jobs for neighbour||16%|
|9||Their neighbour tells them they’re a good neighbour||15%|
|10||They check that their neighbour has everything they need||14%|
On the flip side, people were asked what irritates them most about their neighbours, for which, where they park their car tops the list, followed by barking dogs and being noisy.
Top 10 traits UK homeowners and renters think make a good neighbour
|1||Where they park their car(s)||13%|
|2||Their dog barking||12%|
|3||They’re very noisy||11%|
|4||They don’t maintain their garden||9%|
|5||Their cat comes into my garden||7%|
|6||They have loud arguments||7%|
|7||They are nosey||6%|
|8||They let their house look scruffy||6%|
|9||The fact that we never speak to each other||4%|
|10||They’re always doing DIY||4%|
This comes as Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch announce the best neighbours in the UK. In creating the awards, they hope to highlight the importance of being a good neighbour in fostering safe and happy communities. Co-op’s members created the criteria for what makes a good neighbour in today’s society, resulting in four traits which entries for Neighbour of the Year were judged on.
Traits of a good neighbour, according to Co-op’s members
- Good neighbours look out for each other, for example keeping an eye on the house
- Good neighbours are sociable and friendly - happy for a chat or a party invitation
- They’re practically helpful - from taking in parcels to offering help with the plumbing
- They’re kind, caring and respectful - more specifically thinking about the impact they have on neighbours
Nilesh Chohan from Headingley, Leeds has been crowned this year’s Neighbour of the Year, thanks to his dedication in bringing his neighbours together. He organised a welcome to all residents’ street event and started a ‘get to know your neighbour campaign’ last year bringing students and families together to create an inclusive community. Furthermore, over the past six years, Nilesh has held eight charity curry nights in aid of various charities, raising over £10K to date.
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Neighbour of the Year awards, an additional category was introduced for 2019 to crown an individual as a ‘Community Spaces Champion’. The new award recognises the importance of community spaces and celebrates someone who has shown commitment to either save, improve, or use a local space for the good of their neighbours or overall community.
This builds on Co-op’s 2022 community plan, which includes the Endangered Spaces campaign with charity, Locality, to launch an to protect, support and improve 2,000 at-risk community spaces by 2022*.
Kevin Plicio from Sutton, London, has been named as the Community Spaces Champion 2019 and was nominated 17 times for the award for his involvement in setting up YourSpace Sutton. He’s grown the community project from scratch, turning what was a neglected area behind a park into a community hub where all members of the community can come and enjoy the gardens, have tea and cake in the cafe, and bring children for painting workshops.
Kevin has a team of volunteers that help with the upkeep and the running of YourSpace, and it’s fast becoming a meeting place for coffee amongst mothers and their children, retired people, disabled people, and the whole community.
TV personality, Charlie Dimmock, is backing the awards saying: "It’s uplifting to see that neighbours like Nilesh exist and are being recognised for the great work they’re doing to create streets where everyone feels safe and part of something."
"With my background, I understand how important utilising space to create something positive for a community can be. The way Kevin has taken what was an unused, neglected space, to create beautiful gardens and a real hub for the community is commendable. It’s great to see people using something such as gardening and landscaping to bring people of all backgrounds together."
Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value at Co-op, and one of the judges of the award said: "Everything we do links back to our purpose; to be ‘a better way of doing business’ for the members and communities we serve. These awards encapsulate just that."
"When judging the awards, we were very impressed with what so many people are doing daily – both big and small – to create a true sense of community in their area. All our research shows just how important a sense of community wellbeing is, and how spaces play a crucial role in achieving this. These awards show the massive impact of individuals, like our winners, have on helping people come together to create happy and healthy communities."
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, and one of the judges of the award said: "In this age of technology, it is easy to forget the value in being a good neighbour. It’s great to see people like Nilesh and Kevin bringing people together to create strong, friendly, active communities which prevents crime."
For further information contact:
Notes to Editors
Interviews with our winners available on request.
For more information on awards, please visit https://www.co-opinsurance.co.uk/hub/neighbour-of-the-year/
1Research conducted on behalf of Co-op Insurance by Atomik among 2,007 UK homeowners and renters in August 2019
2Research conducted on behalf of Co-op Insurance by Atomik among 2,000 homeowners and renters in the UK in July 2018
*This is part of Co-op’s overall Co-operate 2022 vision – you can find out more information here: https://www.coop.co.uk/communitiesFind out more Close