Future of Community

The second ‘Future of Ireland’ nationwide study has been published today by leading media agency OMD with the support of Ulster Bank.  This round of research, which explores the very current and modern themes of Belonging and Community delves deeper into the insights revealed in the first report and looks at the topic of belonging through the prism of neighbours, friends and community.

The purpose of the Future of Ireland project is to encourage the conversation about our future and how we can help communities thrive through meeting their declared needs and ambitions.  To do so requires insight into current views, as well as some thoughts on what the future might look like, hence the report was collated to create an informed platform on which this important discourse can take place.

Commenting at this morning’s launch, Tim Griffiths, Managing Director of OMD said: ‘Our initial body of work into the Future of Ireland inspired us to look more deeply into how people feel about the importance of communities today and how they envisage they will look in ten years’ time.  In this age of technology, opening up more diverse and geographically spread social communities, what better time to start the conversation around what many have always seen as the fabric of Irish society – our own communities”.

Maeve McMahon, Director of Customer Experience and Products at Ulster Bank said; "The purpose of the Future of Ireland project is to help us understand and interpret the changes that lie ahead for us as a nation. This second phase of the report takes one step further and looks into our thoughts on community and society, which is particularly important for us at Ulster Bank.  We continually strive to offer our customers help for what matters– but we can only do that if we take the time to understand what people care about, what really matters to them. Our aim in supporting this research is primarily to listen, and to facilitate a conversation; enabling us to support the communities in which we operate by making a real and meaningful contribution to society.

Key findings from the Future of Ireland Report include;

A sense of belonging

Friends and family remain at the heart of Irish society with half (49%) of all Irish people saying they have four or more close friends (who are not relatives) and one in four saying they have six or more. Interestingly, the share of adults with four or more close friends rises with age, from 42% of 16-24 year olds to 57% of over 55s. Isolation does exist in Irish communities however, with just under one in ten say they have no close friends and the same number either don’t have relatives or don’t feel close to the relatives they have.

What makes a community?

It does however take more than knowing your neighbours to create a sense of community. One key factor is a sense of belonging, with a third of all Irish people saying they have a strong sense of belonging within their community. More than half of all adults [52%] say they are proud of their community, with only 13% saying that they do not feel this sense of pride. Encouragingly, nearly half [48%] of people feel their community is somewhat or very receptive to newcomers, while only 14% feel their community is unreceptive. Experience of discrimination is low, with 88% saying they have not experienced discrimination or unfair treatment within their community.

30% of respondents did say that they don’t have a sense of belonging within their community, with contributing factors to a low sense of community including living in the same place for less than ten years, not knowing neighbours well, living in Dublin – these are particularly prevalent with the 25-34 year-old age bracket.

One in four Irish people feel completely safe in their neighbourhoods, half feel safe “for the most part” safe and 10% “somewhat or completely unsafe”. 42% of those who feel unsafe have been a victim of crime in their area in the past five years. 62% feel safe walking alone in their area after dark.  

Download the report here.