Since the Minister first announced The Big Hello! last March local authorities and many local community groups have been planning for the weekend. It is a weekend of community celebration aimed at encouraging people to get to know their neighbours, by hosting or attending a Big Hello event in their local area.
“People are not talking enough to each other because of texting, emailing and social media,” according to the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, TD.
The Minister was speaking in an interview with Wired FM. The interview is to broadcast on Wired and all community radio stations throughout the country as part of The Big Hello!, National Community Weekend (4-6 May).
Wired FM’s Community Radio Day will broadcast on 99.9FM this coming bank holiday, 6 May.
Minister Ring explains the thinking behind the Big Hello initiative: “Communication and personal relationships would be a lot better if people actually talked more to each other rather than spending so much time on their mobile phones. You see it everywhere now, people may be with each other, but they are individually on their mobile phones.
“Go into a restaurant, go anywhere you want, even into a church and people are looking down at their phones, they don’t seem to be looking at anybody anymore, but looking at their phones.
“That attitude has taken over and is controlling our lives. There would be much better communication between people if they got away a bit from that, if they controlled it more. It would do children no harm if they were to get away from that concentration on mobile phones, texting, laptop screens and go out and play games and activities outdoors more.”
Minister Ring also stressed the importance of volunteerism and praised voluntary organisations which, he said, were vital to the nation and without whose work the State would not be as good a social society as it is. “Voluntary groups are a vital, essential support to the State and Government. That needs to be recognised and fully appreciated.”
The 21 licensed community radio stations around the country are coming together next Saturday, Sunday and Monday to support and promote local community activities.
“Wired FM is about entertaining the students, and the broader population of Limerick city, but like all community radio stations around the country, we initiate and run several community outreach projects throughout the year. We also highlight community development and the work of voluntary organisations in the community. For us, outreach, inclusivity, accessibility, training and development is as important as our content,” said Ray Burke, Manager of the student community station Wired FM.
Declan Gibbons, Chairman of CRAOL, the Community Radio Forum of Ireland added, “Supporting this initiative is a natural choice for our radio stations and we invite local organisations to let us know what they are organising and we will help to promote their events,”