Dublin City Council South East Area Community Development Update – July 2021

Mulberry Lane in Donnybrook – a Donnybrook Tidy Towns project with artwork from local artist, Liz Prendergast.

Ronan O’Donnell

The past 18 months has been a challenging time for us all in so many ways. However in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been truly inspiring to see the level of volunteerism and care offered in local communities. When our National Government came together with Local Government and the voluntary sector to launch the Community Call, the response on the ground was immediate. Overnight, communities had come together to set up groups of volunteers to assist with the delivery of food, meals, medication, pensions and other essential items for those in need. Similarly, community-focused Organisations and Centres really rose to the challenge in providing vital supports.
For several months the ALONE and Dublin City Council Emergency phone line service ran from 8-8pm, seven days a week, and the efforts of those working with us during this period was immense. Groups we’ve been working closely with on the Community Call in the Dublin 2 and 4 areas include St Andrews Resource Centre, Ringsend & Irishtown Community Centre, Serve the City, Donnybrook Tidy Towns, Ballsbridge Tidy Towns, Sandymount Tidy Towns, Temple Bar Company and South Georgian Core. We acknowledge there have been many more out there doing similar work such as the Fair Play Café and St Vincent de Paul to name but two. From further afield, Ranelagh Community Response continues to be so helpful by dealing with referrals from as far away as Sandymount.
In partnership with St Andrews Resource Centre and Ringsend & Irishtown Community Centre, we continue to support the valuable Meals Services and Care Packages which are delivered to vulnerable residents over bank holiday weekends. This will continue with the August bank holiday just around the corner.
Following a successful pilot, 800 Activity Packs for Older People were distributed by our Community Team in April and May, as part of Dublin City Council’s Age Friendly & Healthy Dublin City Programmes. Packs included a jigsaw, activity puzzle book, vegetable seeds, pack of cards, stress ball and other items; all designed to help reduce anxiety, increase creativity and enhance motor skills. One new initiative we’ve been promoting since the start of the year has been Newborn Knitting which was set up by one of our Let’s Walk & Talk Volunteer Leaders. On offer are packs comprising wool, needles and patterns with the resulting knitted cardigans, hats and teddies then sent to babies and young children in refugee camps on the Greek island of Samos. If there are keen knitters out there who’d like to get involved in this, do please let us know! A special thanks goes to both St Andrews Resource Centre and RICC for helping with the roll out of these initiatives locally.
To complement the long spell of summer sunshine, the Community Section organised / supported over forty afternoon Garden Gigs at Sheltered Housing Schemes, Care Homes and Centres in the South East Area during the month of July. The live music and refreshments on offer really helped lift the spirits of those in attendance. These events were for residents-only, however, as things return to normal we will hopefully be in a position to open out such events to the wider community.
Local residents and groups are also now beginning to organise small, outdoor Family Fiestas on their streets or in their complexes and as long as safety guidelines can be adhered to, our Community Team can offer a helping hand. We have some gazebos and street games which can be borrowed and it’s possible we may be able to provide support in other ways too. Always feel free to at least ask!
Much focus this year has centred on Environmental Projects. We have been reaching out to Friends of Green Spaces Projects, Tidy Towns Groups and other Environmental Groups and as a result, have supported over 70 projects in the South East Inner City and Pembroke wards so far this year through the provision of flowers/shrubs, tools, gardening advice, top soil, compost and planter boxes. Many of our villages and flat complexes have never looked better; it’s an absolute credit to those who have been out there planting, painting, cleaning etc. and taking such pride in their complexes and streets.
Children and young people have been hugely impacted by the pandemic but fortunately the likes of St Andrews Resource Centre and Ringsend & Irishtown Community Centre will be running Summer Projects outdoors in July and August, with support from Dublin City Council. Exciting trips on offer include visits to Fort Lucan, Ardgillan Castle, the Aquatic Centre, Airfield Estate, Dublin Zoo, Clara Lara, Kia Ora Farm and Malahide Castle. Another important project we’re very pleased to support is the Gaisce award winning Ringsend & Irishtown Youth Diversion Project which is organised by local volunteers, Robbie Maguire and Laura Fay with strong support from the Spellman Centre and Ringsend Community Services Forum. This project is aimed at 14-18 year olds and covers personal development and team work with activities that include camping, kayaking, hiking and fishing. On completion of the programme in August, all participants will be presented with a Bronze Gaisce Award.
To finish, we’d just like to say a huge thanks to all volunteers, groups, centres and organisations for their efforts and invaluable work in the community during what have been very difficult times.

Stay Safe and Take Care.