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Citizenship survey

Community gardening
Researchers: Sarah Kitchen
Published: July 2009

Aim

The Citizenship survey explores peoples’ views of their local community in England and Wales. The survey started in 2001 has taken place every two years. Since April 2007 it has been run as a continuous survey. Key topics have included:

  • Household characteristics
  • Social networks
  • Fear of crime
  • Views about the local area
  • Volunteering and charitable giving
  • Involvement in civil renewal activities
  • Perceptions of racial and religious prejudice and discrimination
  • Attitudes to immigration
  • Interactions with people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Findings

(2007-8)

1. Community cohesion

82% of people in England perceived their community as cohesive, agreeing that their local area was a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together, and 80% had regular meaningful interactions with people from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. 

75% felt strongly that they belonged to their neighbourhood, and 32% felt ‘very safe’ walking alone after dark in their immediate neighbourhood.

2. Volunteering

27% of people in England participated in formal volunteering at least once a month, spending an average of 11 hours volunteering in the four weeks before interview. 35% participated in informal volunteering at least once a month, spending an average of 7.8 hours volunteering in the four weeks before interview.

3. Giving money to charity

76% of people in England had given money to charity in the previous month. The most common ways were: buying raffle tickets (27%); buying from a charity shop or catalogue (23%); and by direct debit, standing order or similar (23%). The average amount given to charity in the four weeks before interview was £16.13.

4. Participation in local decision making

39% of people took part in civic participation activities, 21% in civic consultation activities, and 10% in civic activism activities.

The most popular type of civic participation activity was signing a petition (60%), the most common form of civic consultation activity was completing a questionnaire about local services or problems (67%), and the role most commonly undertaken by those engaged in civic activism was being a school governor (11%).

(2008-9)

1. Race, Religion and Equalities

The proportion of people who thought there was more racial prejudice in Britain today than 5 years ago had decreased to 50% from 56% in 2007-8.

The proportion of people who thought there was more religious prejudice in Britain today than 5 years ago had decreased to 52% from 62% in 2007-8.

94% of people who said they had actively practiced religion felt that they could freely practice their religion in Britain, whilst 7% said that they had been discriminated against when refused or turned down for a job.

2. Volunteering and charitable giving

26% of people in England participated in formal volunteering at least once a month, 35% participated in informal volunteering at least once a month. 24% of 16-24 year olds formally volunteered and 38% informally volunteered at least once a month.

74% of people had given money to charity in the four weeks prior to interview.

3. Empowered communities

 47% of people in England said they had carried out at least one form of civic participation activity in the 12 months before the interview.

39% of people in England said that they felt able to influence decisions affecting their local area and 22% said they felt able to influence decisions affecting Britain as a whole. 78% said it was important to feel able to influence local decisions.

82% trusted the police either 'a lot' or a 'fair amount', 61% said they trusted their local council either 'a lot' or a 'fair amount', and 34% trusted parliament either 'a lot' or a 'fair amount'.

4. Community cohesion

84% of people in England perceived their community as cohesive; this is up from 82% in 2007-8.

77% felt they belonged strongly to their neighbourhood; an increase from 75% in 2007-8, and 81% had meaningful interactions with people from a different ethnic or religious background at least once a month.

77% said that the number of immigrants coming to Britain should be reduced, and 5% thought the number should be increased. 51% thought the number should be reduced a lot; a small decrease since 2007-8 (53%).

Methodology

Face-to-face fieldwork with adults aged 16 or over, based on a nationally representative sample of approximately 10,000 adults in England and Wales, with an additional sample of around 5,000 adults from ethnic minority groups.

Read the reports