Community Comeback is an initiative from Muintir na Tíre to encourage community groups to reactivate and re-engage after the COVID pandemic. It recognises that community groups are the lifeblood of rural Ireland and are the best vehicle for ensuring community viability in areas which may not have many other supports. It also recognises that community groups need support in re-establishing themselves after the pandemic, as do the vulnerable residents in those communities. Finally it recognises that many organisations can provide supports but do not have the direct access to vulnerable persons that Community Alert Groups can provide.
Muintir has held three pilot events which were a huge success, with participants and exhibitors overwhelmingly supporting the initiative and other communities requesting similar events. A key feature of the pilots was organisations who participated saying they could not organise such events themselves and would not have the reach. This is because Community Alert groups are in most parishes in the country and their primary purpose is crime prevention and community safety. We hope to continue the roll out of this programme in 2024.
The concept is quite different from the flagship events that are often held in larger towns, and in venues such as hotels and conference centres. It was felt that such events, while useful, do not attract the people who most need the supports being advertised.
The pilot events attracted many hundreds of attendees with 40 agencies or groups providing useful services and information on the supports they provide. There was also a very important social element with attendees being able to chat and meet their neighbours again. Activities included:
- Blood pressure and other medical testing.
- Activities including walk football and pole walking.
- Property marking and recording.
- Demonstrations of alarms (including Seniors Alert, Carbon Monoxide, and smoke).
- Demonstration of defibrillators.
- Practical talks on physical and mental health.
- Other practical talks on items such as Fair Deal.
All attending were asked to complete a short survey on their needs and interests, which will inform future events. 94% of respondents felt the events were excellent.