Wish you knew more about the people living next door? Here’s your opportunity…

Over the May bank holiday weekend (from 4–6 May), groups across Ireland will be taking part in the country’s first ever National Community Weekend. ‘The Big Hello!’ will aim to strengthen community ties and help tackle the problem of social isolation.

Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development, is encouraging communities to come up with ideas to make it a success.

“National Community Weekend belongs to everyone,” said Minister Ring. “We don’t want to tell communities what they should do – the events will be very much driven by communities.”

The Department of Rural and Community Development hopes that at least 1,000 local events will be held throughout Ireland, and each of the 31 local authorities have been allocated €10,000 to support initiatives in their areas.

There are good reasons to hold a community weekend. People are busier than before, digitally distracted and often do not know their neighbours.

This nationwide event will present an opportunity to involve or say ‘hello’ to those among us who are living alone or isolated.

“The weekend is a chance for people to foster a sense of helping each other,” said Minister Ring. He said he too does not see as much of his own neighbours as he would like – as he is often away on government business – and he looks forward to the weekend.

Events could include themes around sport, history, baking or anything that will help neighbours to come together. It could be as simple as neighbours meeting up for a cup of tea and a chat.

Those interested in organising an event in their community can contact their local authority for an information pack and funding.

Share your ideas for celebrations with us and we’ll pass your brainwaves on via social media.

How does the rest of the world celebrate community?

National community days and weekends are uncommon, with seemingly few countries holding events of this type.

The Caribbean island of Dominica, with its population of just over 73,000 people, holds a National Day of Community Service every November, during which people engage in ‘Tidy Towns’ type activities and acts of kindness.

Perhaps Ireland will set a new trend? If you know of other countries that hold events to honour and support communities, please let us know.

Interested in reading more about the state of Ireland’s community development sector? Check out our latest issue.

Main photo: angelladagenhart0/Pixabay