25 February 2011

Only 17% of Brits would invite a neighbour to dinner if they had food going spare, says survey

Only one in six people (17%) would invite a neighbour for dinner if they had food going spare, according to research conducted for the Methodist Church by YouGov. The survey found that if people had a spare place for dinner 56 per cent would invite a friend, 18 per cent a work colleague and only 17 per cent a neighbour. A quarter (25%) of those asked said they wouldn't invite anyone.

The survey also found that 18 - 24 year olds were more likely to invite a neighbour (20% vs. 17% overall) or friend (78% vs. 56%), as were those who live in the East of England (20% vs. 17% and 60% vs. 56% respectively). Women were slightly more likely to invite a friend than men (58 per cent compared to 54 per cent), but slightly less likely to invite a neighbour (16% vs. 18%) or colleague (17% vs. 19%).

"Sharing a meal together is a key part of community," said Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church. "We know people are incredibly busy, and that it can be harder to connect with our neighbours and local communities these days, but I hope that we can all find ways to spend more time with friends and neighbours. It is too easy to see these results as a sign that society has lost its sense of community, but I believe people want to share hospitality and sometimes all they need is an excuse to get together."

Pancake Day, also known as Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, has been a traditional time of feasting since medieval times. Marking the start of Lent for Christians, it can also be a time of general celebration. This year it falls in Fairtrade Fortnight, so the Methodist Relief and Development Fund is encouraging people to hold a Fair Feast - celebrating Pancake Day with Fairtrade ingredients. There is also the chance to take part in the Big Bible project, an online digital community promoting regular Bible reading, during Lent. The Big Bible project is launching this year's Big Read with Tom Wright's Lent for Everyone: Matthew.

MRDF has a savoury pancake recipe from Gary Rhodes, and the BBC is offering a variety of Pancake Day recipes from Delia Smith and other chefs.

Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes said: "I'm delighted to be a part of this campaign. It's a fantastic opportunity to get together with friends and neighbours but with the satisfaction of knowing that the money raised will be used to help people make their own living and fight hunger themselves."

Dr Martyn Atkins added: "I hope that people will take advantage of the tradition of feasting and celebration on Shrove Tuesday to reach out to others. I know that during the current downturn many people will choose to save spare food to stretch their budget, but time spent sharing meals together is a powerful way to build our communities and enrich our lives." 

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