There is a myth that communities are in decline, but this is not the case, according to Paul Flatters, chief executive of the Future Foundation, with strong opportunities for businesses involved in the community.
He said: “Communities are not necessarily any worse they are just different.” He illustrated this point by highlighting how new technologies were supporting the growth of social networks such as myspace and the way younger people kept in contact using mobile phone technology.
He suggested that traditional communities were either very much the same as in previous years or actually growing stronger
British Household Panel research asked people from all areas of the UK whether they could borrow from neighbours. All regions of UK reported greater numbers in 2004 than 1999, except for inner London. Flatters said: “This is where national journalists live and where a lot of negative views about community in the media are coming from. By and large people are feeling closer to their neighbours.”
Looking at the importance of local shops, he said: “When people are asked to define the boundaries of their community it is often where they shop.”
He said research showed greater attachment to community and he predicted this would increase within an ageing population.