National community weekend aims to ‘strengthen community ties’

People are being urged to reach out to their neighbours as part of the Government’s first national community weekend which takes place this May bank holiday weekend (May 4-6).

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, has explained that “The Big Hello!” initiative aims to support communities to host events in their local area in order to strengthen community ties and help tackle the problem of social isolation.

Commenting on the initiative, Minister Ring said: “I am challenging everyone to reach out and say ‘The Big Hello!’ to their neighbours by organising an event, or attending one in their local community.

“Events could range from a communal cup of tea or a picnic to a sports day or a local history event. The community decides, he exclaimed.

In order to support these events I have allocated €10,000 to each of the 31 Local Authorities and asked them to allocate funding to ‘The Big Hello!’ events in their areas.

The target is for at least 1,000 local events to be held throughout Ireland.”

Minister Ring continued: “In a world where people are spending less time in their communities and more time at work, it is important to find new ways to connect people and focus on the importance of neighbours.

In our busy lives we rarely make time for each other outside of our network of family, friends and social media contacts.

“Sadly, many people living among us are experiencing social isolation and loneliness. I firmly believe that this initiative can help people to connect or re-connect with their neighbours and communities.”

Funding for events is available to residents’ committees and community and voluntary groups through their local authorities.

Further details can be found on the Department of Rural and Community Development’s website.