BARRY-BORN weatherman Derek Brockway has teamed up with a charity to champion the fact that Barrians are much more than fair-weather friends.
The TV meteorologist joined forces with the organisers of The Big Lunch - the UK’s annual get together for neighbours - and Barry resident Mali Fordyce to launch new research which confirmed just how friendly the people of Barry really are.
The nationwide study reaffirmed the chattiness of the Welsh population by proving small talk comes more naturally to people in Barry than English neighbours, with 97 percent of people saying they were comfortable making small talk with pretty much anyone – compared to 72 percent in England.
The study showed 77 percent of Barry people surveyed considered their neighbour to be a friend compared to just one in ten people in England.
Big Lunch ambassador, Derek Brockway said: “Everyone knows how chatty and weather obsessed us Welsh are so it’s no surprise that so many of us enjoy engaging in small talk and even consider our neighbours to be friends. It’s what makes living in Barry so special.”
88 percent people in Barry said they felt happier as a result of engaging in small talk and two thirds of people said small talk brightened up their day.
Three quarters of people surveyed also said it was a simple way in which to connect with their neighbours and a good way of breaking down barriers and getting to know their neighbours.
People in Barry said they also wished they had a better relationship with their neighbour because it made them feel more part of the local community.
Derek added: “What really struck me about the results of the research was how important these everyday interactions seem to be to people and the positive impact they can have on not only the individual but the wider society too. It makes people feel like they matter and are part of their local community.
“Naturally we all lead busy lives so it’s not always easy or convenient to stop and chat but it is important to make time which is why I’m encouraging the people of Barry to join in and host a Big Lunch in their community.
“ It’s the perfect opportunity to get everyone in your street or community together to share some food and conversation and show just how friendly and community spirited we are here in Barry”.
Mali Fordyce, of Barry, said the survey results supported their experience of life in Barry. It is really friendly and I get on with my neighbours really well and chat to them frequently. I think a Big Lunch would be a great way of getting to know them better though and helping to connect with others that I don’t know so well. I know the older people on my street would particularly like it. I will register online and start thinking what I could do for my own Big Lunch on June, 1.”
But almost one fifth of people in Barry said they were too busy to engage in small talk with their neighbours and more than one in ten people in Barry think small talk is tedious and pointless with 7 percent feeling awkward about engaging in small talk.
Big Lunch spokesman, Gwion Thorpe said: “The Big Lunch is calling on chatty neighbours across Barry to build on community bonds and boost the conversations happening in streets and gardens nationwide. The significance of small talk shouldn’t be underestimated. It might seem trivial to some people but it can have a powerful impact and can lead to big things.
“The Big Lunch is a very simple concept and really just provides an excuse or a nudge to get people talking and socialising in their local areas.
“Feedback from previous years has shown that almost everyone who takes part in a Big Lunch feels closer to their neighbours as a result with two thirds going on to hold other events in their community afterwards, which is great.”
“Welsh people are amongst the friendliest in the world but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to work at strengthening our neighbourhood and community ties, so I hope plenty of people join with us this year and host a Big Lunch of their own, whether that be in their back garden, street, the local park or on the beach”.
The Big Lunch is led by the Eden Project, funded by the Big Lottery and sponsored by Asda, Halifax and Streetclub by B&Q.
To join in or for details, request a free pack online at www.thebiglunch.com