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 dinnerif they had food going spare, according to research conducted forthe Methodist Church by YouGov. The survey found that if people hada spare place for dinner 56 per cent would invite a friend, 18 percent 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 toinvite 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 afriend than men (58 per cent compared to 54 per cent), but slightlyless 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 DrMartyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church. "We knowpeople are incredibly busy, and that it can be harder to connectwith our neighbours and local communities these days, but I hopethat we can all find ways to spend more time with friends andneighbours. It is too easy to see these results as a sign thatsociety has lost its sense of community, but I believe people wantto share hospitality and sometimes all they need is an excuse toget together."

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

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

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

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