Following the success of the Future of Ireland last November, we launched the second phase this week in the offices of our sponsor, Ulster Bank. The theme of Phase 2 is Community and Belonging, two themes that stood out in our initial research.
In an age of technology, opening up more diverse and geographically spread social communities, what better time to start the conversation around what many have always seen as the fabric of Irish society – our own communities. To delve into this theme we conducted an online survey amongst 1000 people living in Ireland, to try and get under the skin of what Community means to them. We also talked to a dozen community leaders – in areas ranging from grass roots sports to mental health, from active ageing to volunteer cardiac first responders. These included Matt English from Special Olympics, Justin McDermott from Jigsaw Galway and Aidan Murray, the Chairman of Caltra GAA club.
Through this research we uncovered connecting themes including Friends and Family, Volunteering, and whether Communities are flourishing or not (they are!) As we found in our original survey, the theme of control and people taking control of their own destinies comes through strongly. Communities start with a connection, be it through friends, family or neighbours. 56% of us know our neighbours well while 36% of us have left keys with neighbours – a strong indication of community bonding. Our research also showed that 48% of people are optimistic about the future of their community; that 1 in 4 are involved in their communities and that 36% feel they have skills they could use more in a local community.
We launched the Future of Ireland: Phase 2 to a small invited audience and held a panel discussion with our community leaders to kick-start the conversation.So far we have had six articles in the national press, three radio interviews and numerous online articles. We’re incredibly proud to have a history of action in the area of communities around Ireland and we are now seen as very credible thought leaders.
To view the full report, or to find out more about the Future of Ireland, please visit http://www.futureofireland.ie/