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Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
5 APRIL 2024
7 min read
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Community Spirit: Which UK cities are the most caring?

Whether you’re volunteering for a local charity or making a conscious effort with your recycling, caring for your community is really important. There are lots of different ways to get involved, but which cities across the UK have the most community spirit?

To find out, we’ve conducted a new study, analysing 30 of the most populated cities in the UK, to determine which locations are the most caring. The research has taken into account various factors including: recycling habits, the amount of fly-tipping incidents, crime levels, and the number of charities, blood drives, and community centres in each city.

The life insurance team have also provided their top tips for those wanting to get involved in their local community.

The most caring locations in the UK

Some Brits will be more environmentally conscious, while others might want to give back by helping others. But where in the UK is the most community-minded overall?

Interestingly, the top three most caring cities are all located in the North. People here are known for being particularly friendly, so perhaps it makes sense that they’d be a caring bunch too.

Rank City Household waste sent for recycling (tonnes) per 10,000 people No. of fly-tipping incidents per 10,000 people per year No. of animal charities No. of general charities No. of blood donation drives No. of community centres Crime level score (out of 100*)
1 Leeds 2,509 302 52 1,699 5 98 49
2 Bradford 2,488 544 39 1,342 5 41 70
3 Manchester 1,689 354 31 2,063 9 51 64
4 Milton Keynes 2,739 195 11 621 4 40 60
5 Wolverhampton 1,509 121 34 993 6 26 72
6 Reading 912 46 24 887 11 20 52
7 Bristol 1,227 167 34 1,496 16 60 46
8 Kingston upon Hull 1,685 137 22 503 7 22 60
9 Cardiff 1,118 157 19 701 4 63 40
10 Coventry 974 236 36 1,051 9 24 68

1. Leeds

Taking the crown as the most caring city in the UK is Leeds. Residents are clearly quite environmentally-minded, as they send around 2,509 tonnes of household waste (per 10,000 people) to be recycled every year — which is the second-highest amount in the study.

There are also plenty of charities across the city dedicated to various good causes, with around 1,699 currently operating in Leeds. In particular, the city has 52 animal charities, which is one of the highest amounts of all cities analysed.

Community centres are also a great way to bring people together, offering social support and a place to gather for group activities. Leeds has 98 different centres dotted around the city, which equates to two for every 10,000 people — the most of any location in the study.

The city is also deemed to be relatively safe, with a crime level score of 49 out of 100. To compare, the city with the lowest crime rate is Cardiff, with a score of 40.

2. Bradford

Coming in second place is Bradford. Citizens here also seem to be big recyclers, sending 2,488 tonnes of recycling per 10,000 people to be processed every year – the third-highest amount in the study. While Bradford residents might be green-minded with their recycling, fly-tipping levels are quite high in the city, with 544 incidents per 10,000 people reported every year.

There are 1,342 dedicated charities in Bradford, with 39 of these being specifically focused on animals. Donating blood is another great way to give back to your local community, and Bradford matches Leeds with the number of blood donation centres it offers (5). For those interested in giving blood, you can find more information on the NHS website.

3. Manchester

Manchester ranks as the third most caring UK city, boasting the most charities per 10,000 people of any location in the study (52). This equates to an impressive 2,063 in total, with 31 of these dedicated to animals.

There are plenty of opportunities to give blood in Manchester, with nine blood donation centres dotted around the city. It also has 51 community centres for anyone who is looking for a supportive space, or for somewhere that might offer activities or volunteer projects to get involved with.

The locations with the fewest fly-tipping incidents

Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of large items or waste, often on public roads, land, or in rivers. Not only is fly-tipping illegal, but it can create a dangerous environment for people, pets, and wildlife — not to mention it’s usually an eyesore for the local area. So, where in the UK sees the least instances of illegal dumping?

Rank City No. of fly-tipping instances per 10,000 people per year
1 Reading 46
2      Southend-on-Sea 66
3 Stoke-on-Trent 102
4 Wolverhampton 121
5 Kingston upon Hull 137

Reading takes the top spot, with 46 incidents of fly-tipping per 10,000 people every year. This equates to around 1,453 total reported occurrences on an annual basis.

In second place is Southend-on-Sea, with 66 illegal dumping incidents for every 10,000 residents, followed by Stoke-on-Trent with 102 occurrences.

On the other end of the scale, London residents are the biggest culprits when it comes to fly-tipping. There are around 1,112 instances of illegal dumping per 10,000 people each year in the capital city.

The best cities for recycling

One of the simplest ways to help the environment is to recycle. Actively recycling your household waste reduces the need for landfills, and prevents the use of more costly methods of waste disposal. In the UK, recycling saves about 10-15 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year, the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road. So, which cities in the UK have the best recycling habits? We analysed the latest available government data to find out:

Rank City Amount of household waste sent for recycling per 10,000 per year (tonnes)
1 Milton Keynes 2,739
2 Leeds 2,509
3 Bradford 2,488
4 Nottingham 2,259
5 Manchester 1,689

Milton Keynes is the number one city for recycling in the UK. Residents send around 62,984 tonnes of household waste to be recycled each year, which equates to 2,739 tonnes per 10,000 people.

Leeds, in second place, sends a huge 114,208 tonnes of recycling to be processed every year, which equates to 2,509 tonnes per 10,000 people.

Bradford rounds off the top three cities for recycling in the UK. Residents are recycling an average of 2,488 tonnes of household waste (per 10,000 people) every year.

Top tips for getting involved in your local community

Author image Anna McEntee

What our expert says...

“Having an active role in your community can be really beneficial for your overall wellbeing. It’s a chance to connect with people in your area, giving you a sense of belonging while also opening up a whole new support network.

“Donating your time or resources to a good cause can also be incredibly rewarding, and can create a real change in your local area. No matter your skills or interests, there are countless ways to support your local community.”

- Anna McEntee, Insurance comparison expert

1. Join a local team or community group

Whether you’re into football, netball, or cricket, most towns or cities will have local teams that are always on the lookout for new players. Joining a sports team can be a great way to meet new people and stay fit.

If you’re not big on sports, there are lots of community groups that focus on hobbies too. From painting and knitting to acting and gardening, you name it, there will probably be other like-minded people in your area who enjoy the same activities as you.

Take a look at online community boards or social media groups to find teams or activities near you.

2. Volunteer your time

Volunteering your time is a great way to give back to your community. You could offer to help at ad-hoc local events, such as fundraisers or fairs, or you might like to volunteer on a regular basis, maybe at a charity shop, local garden, animal shelter, or elderly people’s home.

3. Donate

If you don’t have the time to volunteer, you can still make valuable donations to good causes in your local area. Although, donations don’t always have to be money-based.

Lots of supermarkets run food banks, so all you have to do is pop a few extra items into your weekly food shop, and deposit them in the collection boxes. Charity shops and shelters are always in need of donations too, so if you’re having a clear-out, make sure to donate your unwanted clothes and household items.

If you’re wanting to make even more of a difference within your community, giving blood is one of the steps you can take. In fact, the NHS says it needs 5,000 donors every day to keep up with the demand. Most cities and towns will run blood drives, so if this is something you’re interested in, make sure to keep an eye out.

Sources & Methodology

Compare the Market pulled together a seedlist of the top 30 most populated cities in the UK. The cities were then ranked according to the following metrics:

The latest available data was used and was accurate at the time of the research in March 2024.

Anna McEntee - Insurance comparison expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

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