Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has expressed his delight at the response by communities in Kilkenny to The Big Hello! initiative which he launched last month. The Big Hello! supports communities to host events in their local area in order to strengthen community ties and help tackle the problem of social isolation.
So far, 27 The Big Hello! events will take place in the county over the forthcoming May Bank Holiday Weekend (4-6 May), with more to be arranged.
Minister Ring said: “I’m blown away by the response that there has been from communities in Kilkenny. It’s going to make for a really enjoyable and exciting May bank Holiday weekend in the county.
“Over 790 events have been confirmed nationally, with more to come. In fact, I’m confident that we will surpass our target of 1,000 events throughout the country.”
Some of The Big Hello! events in Kilkenny include:
· Blacks & Whites GAA Club will host a 5k/10k walk in memory of Geraldine Ward to raise awareness for Pieta house.
· Ballyragget Community Hall will have an open afternoon for the elderly games, cards, bingo, music and dancing, tea, sandwiches and cake.
· Callan Town Team will have a free day of community engagement. Wildflower seed planting, workshops, street feast and readings from upcoming Callan Theatre production.
· Castlewarren Cultural Group are planning a community social event to celebrate the recent upgrade of the Community Building with children’s games, tea/coffee light snacks, pony rides, music, and official launch.
Minister Ring continued: “I’m delighted that people in Kilkenny have taken to The Big Hello! concept so enthusiastically. It is a great reflection of the strong communities that we have. I now urge people to reach out to their neighbours, especially those who may be elderly or vulnerable, and try to get them involved in their local event.
“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. With our busy lives, it can be hard to make as much 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. I am really looking forward to attending The Big Hello! events throughout the country over the May Bank Holiday Weekend.”
The initiative is being organised by the Minister’s Department in partnership with representatives of Public Participation Networks, Local Community Development Companies, Volunteer Ireland, Young Social Innovators, Macra na Feirme, Street Feast, An tOireachtas and Change X.
In order to support local events, Minister Ring allocated €10,000 to each of the 31 Local Authorities and asked them to allocate funding to The Big Hello! events in their areas. Further details can be found on www.drcd.gov.ie/bighello, and on The Big Hello! Facebook page.