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Community Spirit Still Alive!

 

Updated : Jul 30, 2009

Almost Two Thirds of people regularly take part in voluntary or community activities, challenging the widely held view that community spirit is on the decline.

A report on community involvement by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that just under a quarter of the population take part in unpaid charitable work, while the vast majority of people are in regular contact with their neighbours.

Sport was the most popular form of activity, with 11 per cent of people participating; political groups were the least popular, with just 1 per cent of the population involved reports the Irish Times.

The figures are contained in a CSO report, Community Involvement and Social Networks in Ireland 2006, which involved surveys on social participation and the strength of relationships in local communities.

Those most likely to be involved in the community tended to be those with better education, children and living in owner-occupied homes. People who were unemployed or who had lower levels of education were less likely to feel engaged in the community. Participation in activities was similar across most age groups, although men were more likely to be involved in sports.

Although people living in the Dublin region were the least likely to take part in community groups (21 per cent), they were the most likely to “take action to solve a problem” (13 per cent).

Some 65 per cent of the population took part in community or voluntary activities, while rates of weekly contact with relatives and friends were generally high. Those in the Dublin region had a lower rate of weekly contact with neighbours (70 per cent), while it was highest in the southeast (85 per cent).

Concern over a decline in volunteerism and social capital prompted the Government to establish the Office of Active Citizenship. It cited little evidence of a decline in voluntary activity but noted there has been a worrying decline in voting.

The report also points to evidence of isolation among groups such as older people, those at risk of poverty and people with health problems. Those in the oldest age group (over 75 years) reported having fewer people to turn to at a time of need than any other age group.

There is evidence of a social divide between Irish and foreign nationals.

A third of foreign nationals reported having at least a strong sense of attachment to their neighbourhood, compared to 72 per cent of Irish nationals. Foreign nationals were also most likely to feel socially isolated (6 per cent) compared to Irish nationals (1 per cent).

 

 

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