We’ve put together a few handy tips to help you get your community activities up and running!
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of organising activities in your neighbourhood. You may require Public Liability Insurance, usually as part of a road closure application for larger scale events. If you are planning an event or activity in a public space it is worth considering taking out cover.
The good news is that most community organisations and residents’ associations already have insurance. It’s usually just a matter of seeing if they can get involved, and asking them to help with the insurance cover. Don’t fret, Annual Public Liability Insurance for neighbourhoods can cost as little as €120. Councils sometimes request that you indemnify them – you can ask your insurance company about this. If you need any help with insurance, do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s always a good idea to communicate with your local community Garda about any public event in your local area. This is especially the case if you’re planning to do any activities that will be out on the street or road. They’ll tell you how it works in your area and help make sure it all goes to plan.
Depending on the scale of your activity, you may need to close your street or road. It can be avoided though, so consider taking advantage of alternative public spaces like cul-de-sacs, pavements, green areas, parks, carparks, front gardens and laneways. It’s much easier if you don’t have to ‘close’ the road.
But If you do like the sound of moving the cars out of the way for the day and setting up bang in the middle of your street then there are ways to make it happen. Chat to your local community Gardaí- they will be able to advise you on the best approach. It helps if there is very little traffic, and the traffic can be very easily diverted. You may be able to arrange a temporary road closure for a few hours and you may not need to go down the ‘official street closure’ route.
Alternatively you’ll need permission from your council to officially close a public road for the day. Your local council’s website will usually have a form to fill in and they may ask you to pay fees for closing the street. It’s best to apply well in advance but don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds!
Don’t let a bit of rain put you off doing an activity! It helps to be prepared and have a back-up plan for your outdoor activities. There are plenty of ways to make your event happen, come rain or come shine:
Borrow a tarpaulin, marquee or gazebo to have at the ready
Have an indoor location like the community centre available, just in case!
Ask to use the local Scout group’s den; Scouting Ireland have always been great supporters of Street Feast’s projects.
If you’re having an indoor event, please follow the latest HSE guidelines and take precautions
Getting your neighbours out and about and socialising together is a great excuse to inject a bit of colour into your surroundings and decorate! We’ve all spent so much time at home in our neighbourhoods over the past few months that brightening up your area makes a huge change and puts a smile on people’s faces. Smaller projects (decorating your own front garden) are just as effective as bigger ones (decorating the outside of local disused buildings).
Some creative ideas for decorating your public space:
Long colourful paper chains
Community murals & groovy urban stencils
Start an Outdoor Art Gallery
Whether you’re new to the neighbourhood, or you’ve lived there your whole life, it’s good to take a bit of time to introduce yourself to your neighbours.
Here are a few simple ice-breaking tips for what you can do in your day-today to get to know your community:
Take the time to say a friendly hello and introduce yourself to your neighbours. Try to remember names as best you can, it can be tricky to remember everyone’s but it’s nice to show you’ve listened and that you care.
Make sure to flash your neighbours a friendly smile when you pass them, whether you’re rushing out the door or out walking the dog. It’s a good habit to get into and is sure to make a difference!
Strike up a conversation
Get a genuine conversation going by asking how they are, complementing the plants in their garden or asking what they got up to at the weekend! Build some positive connections.
There are tons of ways to get your neighbourhood involved with community activities. Find what works best for you and keep your neighbours in the loop about all your upcoming activities and events!
Create a community WhatsApp group and ask your neighbours to join.
Get social networking with blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
Tap into existing networks. Local clubs, community groups and your neighbourhood’s resident’s association are all great places to start.
Put up posters and pass out flyers.
Write out some chalk invites on the pavement.
Walk your dog! Dog walking is a great way to meet your neighbours and get chatting about plans for community fun.
Identify that neighbour who knows everyone and make a beeline for them!
Catch every passer-by for a physically distanced chat while washing your car out on the road.
Location, location, location! Wondering where to hold your community activities? We want people to adapt these activities to suit their neighbourhoods and the spaces that they have around them. Get your thinking cap on and decide what your best options are for locations depending on what activity you’re working on! Here are a few suggestions for spaces that could work, all chosen with social distancing in mind:
Your local park is a perfect spot to hold larger scale events. There’s plenty of room to social distance safely, playgrounds to keep kids interested and it’s an easy spot to set up in for a day of fun. Parks are a great space ot use if you don’t have a ‘neighbourhood’ to set up in. If you are based in an apartment building or if you live in a rural community where your neighbours are spread out, they are a great option.
Cul de sac
Many residents live in cul de sacs which only other neighbours access. This is a great opportunity to use the space for pedestrians instead of cars! We recommend speaking with your local Garda about using the space but from our experience it’s one of the easier options. It doesn’t take much to set up some tables and chairs if a few people pull together for activities like Tea-At-Three.
Get out there and about and use your street to its full potential! You may need to apply for a temporary road closure with your local county council- see our tips on how to close your street.
While preparing this guide we have spoken to Neighbourhood Networkers across the country to see what kind of activities people have been organising in their communities and where. Car parks have been a popular choice for people to put on events like the outdoor cinema and drive in bingo. It’s a great big open space with loads of room for social distancing. Find a car park near you, perhaps belonging to the likes of a community centre, that you could access freely for events.
Make it a virtual event and have it over a video call! A great alternative for cocooners and rainy days too.
We advise you to contact your local county council or PPN (Public Participation Network) about what funding opportunities are available to you and your group. Earlier on in the lockdown, county council’s across the country made some funding schemes available to groups responding to COVID-19. Check it out here and see if there are any schemes available to your group
Organising community building activities is as good a reason as any to get in touch with your local county council or PPN. It’s okay to ask what funding schemes and help your council can give you with your activities! Read more on county councils and how they can help here.
Bringing your neighbourhood together safely and responsibly is the number one priority for these community-building activities. We’re all getting used to restrictions lifting and being able to socialise again, but it’s still vital to follow HSE guidelines to help stop the spread of coronavirus in your area. Here are the measures you need to take:
Wash and disinfect your hands.
Keep 2 metres apart from other people.
Wear face coverings in public places.
For more information, check out the HSE advice here.
People who are at very high-risk (click here for HSE high risk info) are being advised to cocoon by staying at home as much as possible and avoid physical contact with others.
According to HSE guidelines, Cocooners are allowed to meet people indoors and outdoors. Just remember to…
Keep 2 metres apart.
Wear a mask.
Disinfect the surfaces in your house before someone who has been cocooning comes over.
For more information, visit the HSE Cocooning info page.