NEWS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND: FEBRUARY

Did you join in on Random acts of kindness day – we certainly did, although it turns out it can be hard to buy someone in Ballymena a coffee just because you’d like to show kindness!

There was a certain amount of confusion caused but on the plus side it ended up with smiles and a good conversation about community spirit.

February the month of love and kindness is almost over and as we march into Spring we find ourselves surrounded by conversation in the media around the need for more kindness in the world.

Recent high-profile suicides are shocking and unexpected but no more sad or shocking than those we all hold close to our hearts. From our own local communities, over 6500 took their lives in the UK in 2018 and there are huge numbers of people experiencing mental health issues. A recent conversation led us to think about what we can all do to be more informed and more supportive.

It all comes back to taking time to talk and be kinder. We can all be kinder on social media, but taking more time in the real world to be kind in our communities can have a massive impact.

That’s why The Big Lunch makes such an impact and we would love for you to try it! We have seen from the research that when kind people host a Big Lunch and invite the neighbours or wider community, it opens opportunities for those experiencing loneliness and depression to make positive connections.

Our packs are printed and ready to go, woop! As always, they are offered on a first come, first served basis and you can order specifics if you don’t need the whole pack but do need extra of certain things such as posters and invites. Contact Grainne

Events

Our Network and how to join in

Eden Project Communities hosts a peer to peer network of people who take positive action where they live. In Northern Ireland we stay in touch via a Facebook group  and events. Find out more and watch our animation.

Grandparent Gardening Week - 27 April - 1 May 

We hope through our partnership with Soil Association Food for Life Get Togethers that more people will be hosting Big Lunches and going on to host regular get Togethers through the year.

Whether you want to do something for Grandparent Gardening Week or The Big Lunch, there’s small pots of funding available in Belfast, Newry Mourne Down and Fermangh/Omagh council areas. Please contact Grainne for more information. 

If you live outside these areas and want to do something intergenerational including food on Grandparents Gardening Week, then please get in touch as soon as you can with Niamh, who may be able to support your ideas.

News

Eden Project Foyle

In case you missed the brilliant announcement – Dan James, Tim Smit and other members of the central Eden Project team are working with the people of Derry on Eden Project Foyle. Any questions you have should be directed to those working on the project. 

Community meet-ups

We started to chat to people via an open network zoom call over the last few months about what such community meet-ups could, would or should look like and here are some of the key themes that emerged from that discussion so far:

  • Flexibility: a format which can be adapted to every community and locality 
  • Fun: keeping it easy, social and enjoyable 
  • Toolkit: resources to draw upon for when you need ideas or facilitation techniques
  • Network: how to find like-minded people around the country 
  • Rejuvenation: to have time to regroup, restore and reinvigorate

A few of us offered to trial this idea where we live to explore what happens when you offer a space for people to connect locally, to find out if this would benefit us and our communities and to see how hard or easy it is to create a welcoming space that encourages and grows connections.

Niamh has been linking up with members and kick started this conversation here with an event SO What, which kickstarted early this year and was organised by the network for the network. Huge effort was put into organising this and it was a fabulous night,- well done to all who made it happen. You can watch a film, here

Future meet-ups are intended to be informal and plans are in place for the first of these to happen locally. If you are interested in finding out more about the idea or want to start a local community meet-up near you, email your local Community Network Developer contacts here

Funding

All ongoing funding opportunities are shared daily - visit The Big Lunch Northern Ireland on Facebook and ask to join our community, where you will find a huge list of potential funding for you and your idea. Good luck.

Other

Loneliness is still on the rise

An article in Scope magazine highlights recent NISRA research which adds further statistical proof to our own research of last year that more is needed to be done to increase friendliness, befriending and conversation. But we believe more needs to be done by us, the ordinary citizen, with all ages rather than a strong focus on the elderly population, if we are to be proactive and future proof against the massive health implications of loneliness.

A first Climate Commission for Ireland

Queen’s University and Belfast City Council are backing a new Climate Commission. Find out more in this report from Sarah Bell and Una Murphy.