Derry named best for community spirit in Northern Ireland: SPAR survey

Derry named best for community spirit in Northern Ireland: SPAR survey

Derry has been named as having the best community spirit in Northern Ireland, according to NI participants in a report from SPAR UK.

The report by community-based retailer SPAR UK drilled down to find the key elements that make a great neighbourhood according to participants, who revealed that feeling a sense of belonging (26%), having good neighbours (25%) and access to free green spaces (12%) are what makes a great community.

Derry came out on top of the NI communities, while West Belfast polled second, East Belfast third, Newtownards fourth and Ballymena fifth. In the list which spanned the whole of the UK, Derry placed seventh in the Top 10.

The report went on to show that a huge 64% of people would describe themselves as happy living in their community, with 53% of those from Northern Ireland adding that their community gave them a sense of belonging – the highest in the UK.

Nurturing a neighbourhood and making a positive difference was something that a huge 67% said was important to them, going on to say it was good to make others feel like they matter.

An impressive 30% also said they were involved in activities for local causes with coffee mornings coming out as the top activity with 70% of people saying they attend, followed by charity jumble sales (40%) and community fun runs or walks (30%). When asked about improving the community environment, a huge 65% said they are involved in community gardening, one of the highest in the country, and over half (52%) also help to renovate and improve local facilities.

And it seems the joy of being involved in our neighbourhoods has grown in 2022, as the research found that 40% of people in Northern Ireland have helped each other a lot more in recent months, the highest in the UK. Over half (58%) also added that they felt they had got to know people in their neighbourhood more, including people working in local shops.

SPAR, which has over 2,600 stores across the UK, of which over 300 are in the heart of communities in Northern Ireland, commissioned the poll of 3,000 UK adults and revealed the most community driven locations from across the UK.

When it comes to community activities, jumble and boot sales came out top as the most popular across Northern Ireland (27%), but the community get together loved the most is a local pub quiz, with 63% saying they attend.

Sports is also a key community event for those in Northern Ireland, with 63% taking part in walking, 40% running and 25% joining fitness classes run by the community. A quarter (24%) also attend dancing classes, one of the highest in the country.

John Drury, a social psychologist specialising in the study of collective behaviour at the University of Sussex commented: “These important findings underline the role that local community plays in people’s lives and find a strong association between the number of groups that people were involved in and their increased happiness in living more locally.

“It’s no coincidence that the activities that were found to drive happiness most – local get- togethers, pub quizzes and dog walking – are all activities that allow people to extend their social circle and form new friendships. It’s also worth noting that some of the most popular activities locally – litter picking and community gardening – serve to improve the community environment. They produce a virtuous circle of happiness in the local community.

“It’s clear that people have discovered, or rediscovered, their local community through the pandemic. Like others, I got to know people in my local shops and cafes through working from home, and realised what a great community I live in.”

Suzanne Dover, Brand & Marketing Director at SPAR UK added: “Our SPAR stores around the UK believe in nurturing their neighbourhoods and supporting the communities they serve. It’s amazing to see such a great response which tells us that people are reconnecting with those in their local communities and enjoying making the most of living in their neighbourhoods.”

SPAR’s recent Community Cashback Scheme gave local shoppers the opportunity to apply for grants to help fund programmes, social clubs and charities in Northern Ireland that give back and bring us together.

£20,000 has recently been awarded to successful NI organisations including The Community Rescue Service, North Coast World Earth, Tackling Awareness of Mental Health Issues, The Hygiene Bank NI, Listening Ear and D’Sign Arts.

More on SPAR NI’s Community Cashback Grant can be found via, and to find out more about SPAR NI’s community engagement, visit


Caption: The Community Rescue Service’s (CRS) Search Technician Murrough McDonagh and District Commander Barry Torrens with SPAR Milltown Rd Store Manager David Buckley, plus CRS’s Regional Commander Sean McCarry and Assistant Unit Commander Ruari Bailey.