Tips on becoming more involved in your community based on behavioural science
17 August 2022
In our latest Reflecting Ireland research, which you can read here, we look at the strength of community in Ireland. To support our findings, we’ve teamed up with Claire Cogan of BehaviourWise to bring you tips on how you can make your own contribution to building a stronger community spirit where you live.
Tips on how to become more involved in your local community
We all want to live in communities that allow us to survive and thrive, where regardless of our background, circumstances or stage of life we can live happy and healthy lives. A strong community spirit is good for our health and wellbeing, our standard of living and our ability to cope when times get tough. We cannot it take for granted, we need to work together to create and sustain it.
The principle of reciprocity is key; the more we participate, the stronger our community becomes and the more we all reap the rewards. To get back we need to give back. Here are some ideas on how to get more involved in your local community.
VOLUNTEER, PARTICIPATE, SUPPORT LOCAL
Volunteer Ireland is the national volunteer development organisation and support body for all local Volunteer Centres in Ireland. Check out their website at www.volunteer.ie for lots of ideas on how to volunteer and where to find out more.
Volunteer for a local charity. There are many charitable causes to choose from, and many charities have branches at local level. St. Vincent de Paul for example is the largest and oldest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland and has branches in every community, so your efforts will directly benefit the lives of people living locally.
Living in a clean, tidy and attractive area is very good for our health and wellbeing. Volunteer with a local Tidy Towns group, clean up group or similar to help take care of the local environment. The Tidy Towns website www.tidytowns.ie has a list of contacts for each county in Ireland.
Thank a volunteer! At the heart of every community there are people who willingly give their time to help others. A personal thank you, a note or a kind word, will motivate them and show them they are appreciated. At a national level, the Volunteer Ireland Awards celebrate the contribution of volunteers each year. The 2022 Awards open for nominations in late August - visit the Volunteer Ireland website www.volunteer.ie for information on how to nominate someone.
Get involved in sport. Sport is great for our physical and mental health and for children’s development. Whether it’s Gaelic games, rugby, golf, boxing or athletics, there are plenty of options to choose from. Sport reaches into every community in Ireland and is the most popular community activity to get involved in. You don’t have to play, there are plenty of other ways to get involved - become a coach, administrator or volunteer. Special Olympics Ireland offer great opportunities to volunteer, check out www.specialolympics.ie for more information.
Live and learn. Broaden your knowledge, learn a new skill or practice a new hobby. Lifelong learning is good for the mind and great for connecting with people in the local community. Adult education courses are available in every community and are open to anyone aged 16 or older. Most courses run terms in the Autumn so now is a good time to find out more. Check out www.adulteducationireland.ie for more information.
Be an active citizen. We have the power to shape how our communities develop. The Government has established Public Participation Networks (PPNs) in all local authority areas, which act as a link for the local authority to connect with community, voluntary and environmental groups. PPNs give citizens a greater say in local government decisions which affect the local community. Find a list of PPNs by county here.
SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS
Choose local when you shop. Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, and they depend on our custom to survive. Every €1 spent with local businesses gives an injection of at least €2.50 into a local community and the national economy (source: www.championgreen.ie).
Support local hospitality. If you work from home, take a break at a local coffee shop or grab lunch at a local café. If you’re meeting friends or colleagues, have lunch out. Mark the weekend or a special event with a local meal out. Your custom will make a real difference.
Sign up to support local. Champion Green is a national movement to inspire all of us to shop consciously and support local first whenever possible people. By doing so we will help our towns and cities remain vibrant into the future. Sign up at championgreen.ie to lend your voice to the movement, and discover new ways to support local, hear about new Irish businesses, and get tips and offers.
The content of this blog does not constitute advice and is for general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice before relying on anything stated in the blog. Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site.