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FBD study: 88% of farmers feel connected with their local community

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FBD study: 88% of farmers feel connected with their local community

January 19
11:47 2016
FBD Champions for Change 1

Farmer, Francis Fannon and his neighbours in Kilteevan, Co. Roscommon. Picture by Agtel.

According to a survey of urban and rural neighbourliness by FBD entitled “Rooted in the Community”, 88% of farmers say that they feel a strong sense of connection to their local communities, compared with 75% of people living in urban areas.

The study was conducted as part of FBD’s Champions for Change programme – a major national farm safety and awareness initiative. This month’s Champions for Change theme is about promoting community spirit and FBD is asking people to nominate their Community Champion for Change, someone who makes a big difference in their community and deserves recognition. The overall winner of the award will receive €1,000 towards the community project of their choice and recognition given to all finalists.

The FBD ‘Rooted in the Community’ study shows that the sense of belonging amongst farmers was particularly reflected through their level of involvement with local groups and initiatives such as GAA clubs, churches, local charity groups, neighbourhood watch initiatives and tidy towns committees. In fact, 3 in 5 (56%) farmers said that they were engaged with a community group in their locality which was considerably higher than the national average of 41%.

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  • 4-in-5 Irish people (80%) feel as if they are part of their local community, 88% farmers, 75% those in urban areas
  • 3-in-5 farmers (56%) are engaged with a community group in their locality versus the national average of 41%
  • Research shows that the level of engagement in local community groups is age driven.  It peaks in the 45-54 age band when almost half (49%) of Irish people involved.  Involvement then decreases with age.  This drops to just two-in-five (40%) among the over 65’s.
  • Two-in-five (40%) farmers are currently involved in GAA and just over a third (35%) are involved with their local church communities.
  • Men are more likely that women to have been/be involved in
    • Local GAA clubs (50% vs. 20% of women)
    • Local sports clubs, other than GAA (21% vs 7% of women)
  • Women are more likely than men to have been/be involved in:
    • School council/Parents groups (31% vs 18% of men)
    • Church committee/church group (29% vs 19% of men)
    • Local classes (educational, exercise, bridge, hobbies) (21% vs. 12% of men)
    • Volunteering in general (e.g. the elderly, underprivileged, special needs etc.) (14% vs. 9%).
  • 2-in-5 farmers (40%) know and trust their neighbours well enough to leave the keys to their homes with each other.
  • A third (32%) of farmers feel comfortable enough with their neighbours to spontaneously ‘drop in for a cup of tea’.  This compares to just 1-in-4 non-farmers.

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Fiona Muldoon, CEO of FBD, said “It’s perhaps no great surprise that the farming community feel so connected to the goings on in their locality. They have a strong sense of community as well as a natural instinct for looking out for one another. You only have to turn on the news at the moment to see extraordinary acts of kindness and togetherness as people support each other during the recent flooding crisis.

“That’s why we want to recognise and celebrate the people who are making a real difference on the ground, the ordinary people who go the extra mile for others, through our Community Champions for Change awards.”

However, research also explains that this level of involvement is decreasing rapidly as 76% of farmers said that they previously were engaged with local groups. The study also showed that engagement levels are also age driven with those aged 45 -54 (49%) being the most active, a figure which generally decreases as people get older.

Fiona Muldoon continued, “This figure is a particular concern as the ageing profile of farmers means that they are more at risk than ever of becoming more isolated and more vulnerable as they get older. That’s why initiatives such as FBD’s Champions for Change are important as it brings farmers together as a community, reminding them that they’re not alone.”

The heartening sense of community is also evident from that fact that 2 in 5 (40%) farmers know and  trust their neighbours well enough to leave the keys to their homes with each other and 32% said they would feel comfortable enough with their neighbours to spontaneously ‘drop in for a cup of tea’.

“Maybe you know someone who helped save a life or who prevented serious injury on a farm, by calling in at the right time. Perhaps you know someone who has used their own experience of a farm accident to help make others safer. If so, we would encourage people to tell us their story and nominate their Community Champion of Change,” said Muldoon.

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