How well do you know your neighbours? Would you feel comfortable popping round in your dressing gown to borrow some coffee first thing on a morning? We wanted to bring back the feeling of community to Britain and, in true first direct style, we decided to do things a little out of the ordinary.
The whole enchilada
We wrote to 300 customers, who had recently taken out a mortgage with us, and asked if they would be interested in hosting an epic street party in their new neighbourhood.
Not your everyday street party, though. We wanted this one to be the sort of party that brings neighbours together for life and gets talked about for years to come.
What was in it for us? All we asked is that we came along to film the event. (OK, and that we join in the fun and nibble on a few canapés as well)!
Once our customers had got back to us to express their interest, we managed to whittle the list down to just two. But not being ones to leave anyone out, all the customers who replied got a bottle of bubbly and the runners-up got a brilliant BBQ hamper - perfect for getting their own party started.
Fit for the Queen
In the end, we chose Simon and Sam of Stafford, who were over the moon and excited to put the word out that they would be throwing their neighbours a party.
When the big day finally arrived, they received an amazing welcome from everyone in the neighbourhood, quickly breaking the ice at the carnival-style party, which of course had a distinctly English twist.
As well as enjoying cake and tea fit for the Queen, the dozens in attendance were treated to delicious locally-sourced food, face-painting for the kids and circus-style performances from fire breathers and stilt-walkers.
Of course, it wouldn't be a British street party without a downpour, however it failed to dampen the party spirit and revellers were more than happy to take their drinks to safety under the gazebo until it passed.
Simon said about his unconventional entrance: "We have been round and introduced ourselves to everyone now and handed out the invitations. I must say it was great to meet everyone. Without this, I don't think we would have ever met so many people."
So the very last song played and the party eventually ended, however the relationships formed will last a lifetime. Everyone went home smiling and first direct came back with the belief that togetherness and community are indeed alive and very much kicking in the many streets of Britain.
Does your neighbourhood have a strong bond and sense of togetherness, or does the average day in your street resemble a scene from a soap opera? first direct did a nationwide survey to find out just how we feel about those we live closest to.