For just over a quarter of people, loneliness is the biggest fear about growing old in their community, according to a survey carried out by Macra na Feirme.

The findings were announced as Macra, in partnership with Calor, launched its ‘Know Your Neighbour’ campaign, which encourages people to reach out to their neighbours this winter.

The online survey, which was completed by 512 adults, showed that safety and security (22%) and lack of access to health services (21%) also featured prominently as fears.

A fear of isolation is more of a concern in urban areas (33% compared to 21% in rural areas) with lack of medical facilities more of a concern in rural areas (27% in rural versus just 14% in urban).

During the winter period it is important to make an effort to call to your neighbours to create a stronger sense of community, according to 63% of people who took the survey.

As winter draws in and the evening gets darker we need to be aware that those who live alone can feel isolated, said Broadcaster and ‘Know Your Neighbour’ ambassador Sile Seoige.

“Through the ‘Know Your Neighbour’ winter campaign, I’m joining Calor and Macra na Feirme, in calling on members of the public to visit their more vulnerable neighbours.

“Even a small gesture like calling in to have a cup of tea could make a real difference.”

Other findings from the ‘Know your Neighbour’ research included:
  • The biggest concerns of those living in rural communities is lack of access to broadband (21%).
  • Followed by lack of opportunity to progress (14%).
  • Emigration of younger community members (13%).
  • The welfare and safety of elderly community members (13%).
  • In comparison the biggest concerns of those living in urban communities is safety and security.
  • When asked what their favourite past times are, going to the pub listed as the most popular past time for more than a quarter (28%) of adults followed by shopping (26%) and local sports clubs (20%).

As the evenings grow darker we are less likely to bump into neighbours and it’s important that we make an extra effort with our more vulnerable neighbours, Macra Na Feirme National President, Sean Finan said.

“The research demonstrates that whether living in an urban or rural communities we share the same worries and concerns and whether in a city surrounded by people or in a more rural location, people can feel isolated and vulnerable.

We are calling on all members of the community to join Macra members in getting to know their neighbours this winter.

Meanwhile, Calor’s business is at the heart of homes and communities throughout the country, Sharon Nolan, Marketing Manager for Calor said.

“We recognise that people living in both urban and rural locations face challenges, particularly those living on their own during the winter months,” she said.