Sunderland folk are among the friendliest in the country, finds report

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PEOPLE in the North East are the friendliest in the country, according to a new report.

Wearsiders today said they agreed with the survey that found people in the region are more friendly than those in the south.

Forty-one per cent of North East folk say they frequently smile at say hello to people in the street, even if they don’t know them. Just 20 per cent of people in London and 23 per cent in the South East said they do the same.

The survey, by The National Lottery Good Causes, also found that 55 per cent of adults in the UK said they have run an errand or done a chore for someone outside their immediate family in the last month.

Helen Driscoll, evolutionary psychologist at the University of Sunderland, said: “There are local variations in the social norms.

“If cultural differences and behaviour is seen to be socially acceptable in one area then people will feel more comfortable to behave that way.

“If you live in an area, for example, London where people will sit on the Tube and not speak then you will tend to do the same just in case others will think you a little mad.”

The survey was commissioned ahead of the Diamond Jubilee after the Queen said she hopes the occasion will bring people together in the spirit of neighbourliness and celebrate the voluntary service given by millions.

National Lottery players have raised more than £28 billion since the draws started in 1994, funding 8,000 community groups, 1,400 sports clubs and 3,700 arts projects in the North East.

St Luke’s Neighbourhood Trust, in Pallion, was successful in applying for more than £8,000 to help set up a toddler group.

The established Sure Start scheme was closed over a year ago due to Government funding cuts and families in the area found it difficult to access suitable play groups within walking distance.

The money secured has enabled a weekly toddler group to be set up in St Luke’s Church every Thursday morning.

At present there are six families attending but Tina Carlisle, community engagement worker, advised that there is room for more to go along.

She said: “We have two qualified childcare workers from the Four Seasons Play Scheme who structure the sessions.

“The children play, we offer them arts and crafts and encourage them to take part in making their own healthy snacks. The mams and children love it. We also have a toddler bouncy castle.”

The trust has plans for educational trips for the children to local farms and the Sea Life Centre but are looking to find further funding.

On the findings of the new survey, Peter Wanless, chairman of the National Lottery Forum, said, “This poll suggests community spirit is strong and most people go out of their way to help others. The National Lottery brings people together by funding community groups, local arts and sports clubs.”

The Blue Watch Youth Centre, in Ryhope, Sunderland, was recently was awarded nearly £7,500 by The Big Lottery Fund.

The funding will be used to provide activities aimed at bringing people of all ages together to promote inter-generational understanding and encourage community cohesion.

Blue Watch has been based at Ryhope Youth and Community Centre since 1995 on the site of the former village fire station. The project reaches about 150 to 200 young people a week and runs daytime and evening events.

Activities include fishing, bike rides and bell boating - an inflatable water activity aimed at getting people into sport.

A working garden has been developed in an area at the back of the centre and each year a garden party is held. Last year, the produce grown in the garden was given out in the local community.

David Mellor, project leader, said, “The good thing about this bid was that it came directly to Blue Watch and we can pass it straight on into our service.

“We run a volunteering programme and we recruit volunteers from within our groups. It helps with confidence building and gives a sense of self worth and responsibility to our youths.”

PEOPLE on Wearside agreed with the survey’s findings that we’re the friendliest in the country.

Heather Nicholson, 64, who is retired and from Barnes, said: “We are nice people in the North East, warm and kind. In general, most people are there if you need them.”

Her husband James Nicholson, 65, who also retired, said: “London is a lonely place. You don’t talk to anyone. On the Tubes, if you try to smile, they do not want to know.”

Housewife Lill Armbruster, 36, of Pennywell, said: “It’s a really good community spirit. I’ve been here 36 years. We all stick together when we need to.”

Karen Day, 43, a cleaner from Pennywell, said: “It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.”

Student Natalie Armbruster, 17, of Pennywell, said: “It’s nice to be nice. The students are friendly at college.

Patricia Scott, 46, a domestic, from Millfield, said: “I would say we are more friendly in the North East. If you are out with your pet, walking your dog, people always stop to talk.”