Neighbour of the Year 2020
For the third year running, we’ve crowned some of the UK’s best neighbours following a nationwide search, in partnership with our friends at Neighbourhood Watch to find and celebrate some of the UK’s best neighbours.
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 2020 – Shaun Blagdon
Shaun was a clear winner thanks to his selfless acts of neighbourliness and for illustrating the possibilities and positive impact he has on those living around him.
When the nation went into the first lockdown back in March, Shaun took it upon himself to rally his neighbours together, quickly forming Ella Street and Avenues. This is a network of 400 community volunteers who became vital in helping to support their vulnerable and shielding neighbours, carrying out over 200 jobs in the community from shopping for others to collecting post. An additional unexpected bonus from his community work is that many of the volunteers in the group have now become firm friends as well as good neighbours.
The scheme proved to be so successful, it became part of the City of Hull's official response and remains on standby in case it’s needed again.
Shaun has strong links with Ella Street, where he was born and is always keen to go the extra mile. He looks after the Facebook page ‘Only on Ella Street’, delivering a friendly forum where residents can swap stories, tips, idea and information. He also regularly posted videos of the street taking part in the Clap For Carers campaign.
Listing his proactive response as one of the many reasons, Shaun’s neighbour Elizabeth Heywood successfully nominated him telling us:
“Before the city council’s response was up and running, Shaun got in touch with friends and distributed hundreds of leaflets across this area of Hull, seeking people to help as well as those who needed assistance. Shaun’s very much part of the reason Ella Street is seen as one of Hull’s most desirable places to live and has long been a community champion.”
Shaun’s really is at the heart of his community and his volunteering has gone beyond lockdown, it’s now the new normal for Ella Street and Avenues.
Shaun Blagdon, Co-op’s Neighbour of the Year 2020, said: “It’s such an honour to have won this award - 2020 has been such a strange year for everyone and it’s been a pleasure to spread a little bit of joy to my neighbours.
“I really believe that being a good neighbour is about looking out for each other, and I hope I’ve encouraged people to actively get out and support their community – even virtually.”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
Young Neighbour of the Year 2020
Coop Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch are proud to announce the winner of the first ever Young Neighbour of the Year is Taylor from Edinburgh.
9-year-old Taylor, from Edinburgh, was nominated by her neighbour Yvonne Cuthill for supporting her while she went through cancer treatment during lockdown. Taylor has helped Yvonne by taking her dogs out when she has been unwell, baking cakes, hanging the washing out and making flasks of tea.
Taylor was also recognised for supporting her wider community during lockdown where she regularly collected rubbish on the street, put out her neighbour’s bins and took in their parcels.
The pandemic hasn’t prevented Taylor keeping in touch with her neighbours either. She has turned to technology to spread a little joy with others during lockdown restrictions by spending time video calling some of her neighbours every day – just to make sure they had someone to speak to.
Taylor’s neighbour, Yvonne Cuthill, said: “She is a loving caring young lady and very respectful to her elders and neighbours. Taylor uses FaceTime to message us every day, to check we are ok – that is unheard of from a girl her age and that’s why I think she is fully deserving of the Young Neighbour of the Year award.”
Taylor O’Connor, Edinburgh, Neighbour of the Year, said: “It’s very important to have neighbours. I can still see them even if I can’t go close. I just want to help local people.”
The Neighbour of the Year award celebrates neighbours who look out for others, are sociable and friendly, offer practical help and are kind, caring and respectful. In its third year, the number of entries increased by a staggering 100 percent from 2019.Close
Prolonged Covid Impact Sees Neighbourliness Wane In The UK
- New data shows a 46% fall in UK adults who know if neighbours are vulnerable or not
- Only one in five have checked in with neighbours who live alone, following months of lockdown restrictions
- Over 9 million people in the UK report they are always or often lonely
- Shaun Blagdon, from Hull, announced as Co-op Neighbour of the Year 2020 following his pandemic response during lockdown
New data from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch warns that the surge in neighbourliness seen in the Spring hasn’t been sustained, as pandemic fatigue sets in across the UK.
During the peak of the first national lockdown in April, data from Co-op showed a spike in neighbourliness, with almost three quarters (72%) of UK adults saying they knew which of their neighbours was classed as high risk.
After seven months of pandemic restrictions, this figure has seen a dramatic fall, with only a quarter (26%) of a sample of 2,000 UK adults revealing they know which of their neighbours are at risk.
Further to this, of those people who have given support to neighbours during the pandemic, the reasons for doing have now changed following months of restrictions.
During the first national lockdown, 31% of UK adults said they had checked in with a neighbour who lived alone as a way to help combat loneliness. Now, months later, this figure has declined by a third, with only one in five say they have done the same.
Ellis German, Home Insurance Executive at Co-op Insurance said: “Our latest research into neighbourliness shows the UK’s neighbourly spirit has, worryingly, plateaued over the course of the year. The length of time of the pandemic, the personal impact on everyday lives and the shorter days and colder weather are all key reasons for why we’re seeing this.
“We’re heading into a time when millions of people are facing into a winter of loneliness and isolation, and with further tiered restrictions in place for neighbourhoods across the UK, we’re urging people to look out for each other.”
Existing Co-op’s research into loneliness has shown the devastating impact this can have in terms of mental and physical wellbeing, with over 9 million people in the UK saying they are always or often lonely. Worryingly, three quarters (75%) of those who are lonely on a regular basis do not know where to turn for support, making neighbourliness a vital and necessary tool to help combat this.
The research into neighbourliness was conducted as part of Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch’s Neighbour of the Year Awards. Shaun Blagdon, from Hull, has been announced as this year’s winner as part of an initiative intended to celebrate those who go above and beyond to support their neighbours.
As the nation went into lockdown in March, Shaun rallied his neighbours together to form a network of community volunteers who helped support vulnerable and shielding neighbours. The scheme was so successful that it became part of the City of Hull's official response, while many of the 400 volunteers in the group have become firm friends as well as good neighbours.
Shaun has been awarded the title by a panel of judges from Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch for illustrating the possibilities and the positive impact neighbourliness has on those living around us.
Shaun Blagdon, Neighbour of the Year 2020, said: “It’s such an honour to have won this award - 2020 has been such a strange year for everyone and it’s been a pleasure to spread a little bit of joy to my neighbours. I really believe that being a good neighbour is about looking out for each other, and I hope I’ve encouraged people to actively get out and support their community – even virtually.”
Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch are calling on people throughout the UK to reconnect with neighbours this winter to help start building back better in local communities.
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, said of this year’s awards: “There have been some amazing entries this year, with some clear local heroes doing amazing deeds across the country right now.
“With the Co-op, we really urge everyone to be as supportive of each other as possible and be truly vigilant. It will be a very challenging Christmas for so many of us.”
Ellis added: “We’re urging people to band together and keep up neighbourly spirits this winter, especially with neighbours who are vulnerable or alone, whether that’s by having a friendly chat over the garden fence, checking in to see if they need food or medicine dropping off or by keeping in touch online.”
The annual Neighbour of the Year awards, which this year saw entries double to a record high, are being back by actress Catherine Tyldesley who said: “It’s heartening to see that neighbours like Shaun exist and are being recognised for the great work they’re doing to create communities where everyone feels safe and part of something.
“That’s why it’s really important, especially at this time of year, that Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch are encouraging people to check in with neighbours who might be in need of a friendly face.”Find out more Close