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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
Neighbours: when they're not good friends
empty street
How can we make our neighbourhoods more friendly?

On Breakfast we looked at what happens when neighbourliness isn't present - and what can be done to restore it

David Sillito meets a woman who hasn't spoken to her neighbour for 20 years.

David met Sue, from Rotheram, who, these days speaks only to her family and one friend.

She feels that it's best that way as people where she lives are not neighbourly anymore.

Sue doesn't chat to her neighbours

The designer Wayne Hemmingway, who has been involved in town planning, about how the potential for neighbourliness can be built in to building designs.

He said that cars were to blame for much of the decline in neighbourliness.

We've allowed the car lobby to give us buildings and house-plannners to give us housing developments that are dominated by the car and it's clearly daft
Wayne Hemmingway, Building for Life

As chair of Building for Life, Wayne has been involved in a project called Home Zone, which aims to reduce the dominance of the car in neighbourhoods and gives priority to pedestrians and cyclists.

This, he says, creates happier neighbourhoods and happier streets as people get more opportunities to meet one another if they don't come straight out of their front door and get into a car parked on the drive.

David Sillito
David Sillito looks at how the internet is bringing mums together
On Wednesday, David Sillito found out how the internet is helping new mothers beat loneliness, isolation and depression.

The days are long gone when a mothers' mafia ruled the neighbourhood with a network of garden fence gossip.

These days, more than half of us don't even know our neighbours' names.

That may not matter when you're out at work all day. But, when you're at home with a tiny baby, you can suddenly feel isolated and imprisoned.

Today, David Sillito looked at how going online has helped create "virtual communities" for new mums.

When they decide to have children, many people decide to up sticks and move to a nice, quiet neighbourhood.

But what happens when it's too quiet, when the only passers by seem to be in cars and when it feels as though you are the only mum in the area?

some neighbours
You can't go up to someone and say - will you be my friend?
For Donna Heaton motherhood was lonely, scary and it destroyed her confidence.

She had returned to her home town of Rotherham expecting to be surrounded by friends but once she had a toddler she found herself very isolated.

The solution for her was to go online.

The website Netmums is a social networking site for mums and helps mothers find people to talk to in their own neighbourhood.

Some of Donna's new friends found they were talking online to people who were only a few doors away.

They'd seen each other in the street but were too nervous to say hello.

Finding a friend

As one mum said 'you can't go up to someone and say 'will you be my friend.'

The question is why so many women feel so isolated.

Among the group I talked to, some said that people simply don't socialise with neighbours anymore.

And several said that they had had to move from town to town and found it hard to meet new people.

Underneath it all was a feeling that the old support system of relatives who used to live nearby had disappeared.

So too have the streets where everyone knows each other's business.

In some ways that's a relief, but for those unable to get out there was huge relief that the computer offered an online alternative to the garden fence.

Previously on Breakfast

Click on the links below to see our previous features on Breakfast

  • Was there ever a golden age when people knew their neighbours and left their back doors on the latch?

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    Neighbourhood Watch 3
    The garden fence goes online

    Neighbours who don't talk

    BBC Breakfast


    Who needs neighbours?
    10 Jul 06 |  Breakfast
    Your Comments
    10 Dec 04 |  Breakfast


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