Promoting Social Inclusion

Community Smoke Alarms
Smoke Alarms

In 2016, Laois County Council Community Section in association with the Laois County Fire & Rescue Services engaged in the scheme to purchase 300 smoke alarms and distribute them to homes across the county.
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Age Friendly
The Central Statistics Office has predicted that over the next 30 years, the number of people over the age of 65 in this country will double and the number over 80 will quadruple.  This change in our demographics has huge implications for policy formation and service delivery.age-friendly-logo

Where we live, the physical, social and cultural environment, impacts hugely upon how we live.  In an age friendly community, policies, programmes, services and infrastructure related to the physical and social environment are designed to enable older people to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate in society in a meaningful way.  An age friendly community benefits people of all ages.

The Age Friendly Cities and Counties (AFCC) Programme recognises the valuable role that older people can and are playing in shaping their communities for the better and facilitates their voice to be heard in key decision making processes.  It is part of a worldwide, World Health Organisation (WHO) inspired movement which embraces the challenges and opportunities that our ageing population presents by facilitating local authorities to take the lead on changing thinking about ageing, and how services are planned and delivered.

Laois Age Friendly County Strategy Vision

“Laois will be a county where older people are supported to live independently in safe and secure homes and communities suitable to their physical and social needs.  A County, where older people are enabled to participate in economic, social, political and community life and continue to grow, develop and contribute to society”.

The Laois Age Friendly County Programme was launched in June 2014. The process is being led by The Laois Age Friendly County Alliance, chaired by the Chief Executive of Laois County Council, and include relevant organizations such as the HSE, The Garda Siochana, Leader Partnership and other stakeholders.

A county wide consultation process took place to ensure that the planned Age Friendly County Strategy for Laois is informed by the views and priorities of older people and their organisations.

Over the summer of 2014 six public consultations/active listening workshops were held.  In May 2015 a Showcase for the Over 55s was held in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel which included a consultation workshop.  This was attended by approximately 200 persons.

The consultation was framed around 8 main themes;

  • Outdoor Spaces, Buildings and the Physical Environment – Older people are supported to be out and about by the social and built environments
  • Transportation – Older people are able to get to where they want to go, when they want
  • Housing – Older people stay living in their own homes and communities
  • Respect and Social Inclusion – Older people are truly valued and respected
  • Social Participation – Older people participate in social, economic and public life
  • Communication and Information – Older people have the information they need to live full lives
  • Community Support and Health Services – Older people lead healthy and active lives for longer
  • Civic Participation and Employment – Older people continue to learn, develop and work

The workshops were organised to encourage participants to contribute to discussions on the eight themes above using the following 4 questions:

  • What is good about each topic in Laois?
  • What would improve each topic in Laois?
  • What can you yourself do to improve each topic in Laois?
  • What can others do to improve each topic in Laois?

Laois aims to be an Age Friendly county

The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016-2021 is an initiative designed to create a county where older people are valued and respected. It seeks to improve the quality of lives of people over the age of 55 in County Laois. This strategy is being implemented by the Laois County Age Friendly Alliance. This Alliance is an inter-agency group, led by Laois County Council. This is part of a national Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme spear headed by Age Friendly Ireland.

Cathaorleach Catherine Fitzgerald and retired TD and award winning author, Mary O’Rourke launched this initiative on Tuesday 14th June, 2016 in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois. The Cathaoirleach was joined at the launch by fellow speakers Chief Executive of Laois County Council and Chairperson of the Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, Mr. John Mulholland, Mr. Hugh O’Connor, CEO of Age Friendly Ireland and Orla O’Byrne, Chairperson of the Laois Older Person’s Forum.

Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald said “We are very lucky to have a very active older population in our county. Everyone hopes that as they grow older they will be supported to remain in their own home, be listened to and taken seriously, be able to work or volunteer, enjoy a good social life, and have access to good information and healthcare. These are hopes that we, as local agencies and organisations, want to work together to fulfil in Laois.

Chief Executive John Mulholland said” Local older people are key to the process; their collective voice is at the heart of the Age Friendly design. All the great societies of the world down through history have placed great value on the wisdom and life experience that older people brought to their communities. Through the Age Friendly Programme, we are striving to enhance the value and respect for the immense contribution that our older generation makes to our society, in our country and in our county.

The Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, an inter-agency planning Alliance, has been established to oversee the implementation of the initiative at county level. In Laois, it is particularly pleasing to see the collaborative nature of the commitments put forward by the range of stakeholders involved, An Garda Siochana, the HSE, Local Link, Laois Partnership, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois/Offaly Education & Training Board, Laois Older Person’s Forum and Laois County Council.

The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016 – 2021 set out specific actions to be taken under the 8 (WHO) Themes that target areas designed to improve the quality of life of older people in County Laois. This strategy is a direct response to the views gathered from 283 older people over the age of 55 years in County Laois. The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy is available by contacting Geraldine Delaney in the Community Development Section, Laois County Council of by

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Laois Older People’s Forum, Laois Age Friendly Alliance Group, along with Laois Public Participation Network are proud to announce the launch of the “Information Guide to Services for Older People in County Laois”.

The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016 – 2021 which was launched in June, 2016 sets out specific actions to be taken under the 8 (World Health Organisation) Themes that target areas designed to improve the quality of life of older people in County Laois. The Strategy was a direct response to the views gathered from 283 older people over the age of 55 years in County Laois.  This Information Guide has been compiled by the Older People’s Forum in association with Laois Age Friendly Alliance Group.  One of the Actions in the Strategy was to produce an Information Guide to address the information needs of older people, in particular the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community.  This Information Guide will help create more awareness of the services and support available for older people in the county.  Having information more readily available will enhance the lives of older people who make a valuable contribution to our society.

The need for the Information Guide is highlighted by the fact that the Irish population is ageing and the fastest growing age group is those aged over 80 years. In addition, the number of people living alone is anticipated to increase substantially between now and 2021.  This trend indicates the need for comprehensible, accurate and easily accessible information on services available to support older people.

It provides advice and information on entitlements, health, housing, home service supports and maintenance, safety and security, social and leisure activities, transport, support groups, useful numbers and contact details and so on. It will be of practical benefit to older people and the organisations and services working with them.

The information in this guide is presented in a clear colour coded format making it easy to use and is free of charge to the over 55s.

Chairperson of the Older People’s Forum, Orla O’Byrne said “The Laois Older People’s Forum hopes that this new Information Guide will help older people, who might feel isolated or lonely, to see all the services and help available to them in County Laois. We also hope that this guide might encourage them to join a club or a group of people with similar interests in order to meet new friends and have meetings, get togethers and fun to look forward to.”

Further information and copies of the Information Guide can be obtained through Geraldine Moore Delaney, Community Development Section, Laois County Council, County Hall, Portlaoise or by email or by telephone 057 86 64107.

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New Communities
Work with new communities, in conjunction with relevant agencies, includes supporting asylum seekers transitioning from direct provision; developing Laois’s first Integration Strategy; identifying and raising awareness of the needs of new communities; and enhancing their capacity to engage with service providers and other relevant organisations.
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Traveller Interagency Work
This Group comprises a number of agencies and organisations whose work includes the betterment of life for the Travelling Community in the county.

Membership of the Traveller Interagency Group includes:

  • Laois County Council (Group administrator)
  • HSE (Chair)
  • Laois Travellers Action Group
  • Members of Travelling Community
  • Laois/Offaly Education & Training Board
  • Laois Partnership
  • Dept of Social Protection
  • Laois County Childcare Committee
  • TUSLA Child & Family Agency
  • Midland Traveller Conflict Mediation Initiative

Useful Links:

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Community Mental Health Awareness Work

Promoting positive mental health has always been a focus of Laois Mental Health Collaborative Group, comprising Laois County Council, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois Partnership Company, Mental Health Ireland, HSE and youth sector representatives, organisers of the 2016 Laois CONNECTS Mental Health  week which took place from Saturday 8th October, 2016 until Saturday 15th October,2016.

The programme for Laois CONNECTS Week, now in its sixth year, included some returning favourites, such as community organised walks, art workshops and Library events throughout the week.

A 4K Family Walk launched the week taking place in Emo with special guest Olympian Jessie Barr, Zumba warm ups and face painting, hosted by Laois Sports Partnership.


Some new events on the programme included a week-long Wellness Hub event took place in Laois Shopping Centre, Portlaoise.

wellness-hub-timetableThe focus of the Wellness Pop-Up Hub is on positive mental health and wellbeing targeting all age groups and interests. Events included a primary school art project based on the theme “Inside Out”:- A series of Q&A workshops took place along with several skills workshops where you met professionals working in Mental Health Services and Promotion, to discuss any topics in relation to mental health and well being:- and a wellness cafe “saloon” where you could come along, have a cuppa and learn new ways to cope with the stresses and strains of life.  A number of relaxation type therapies took place during the week including Mindfulness, Yoga, Massage and Zumba Dance, a fun fitness routine that helps increase self confidence and positive body image.

The Kathleen Gorman Memorial event took place this year in Heywood College, Ballinakill with special guest Paul Gilligan, CEO, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, who will speak on “Teenage Emotional Wellbeing; a right or an aspiration”.



As part of the week, Students from Mountmellick Community College, who have recently achieved the Amber Flag, visited all the post-primary schools in Laois to highlight the importance of the campaign and to encourage positive mental health promotion.  They delivered to each individual staff member and student “A Student Survival Kit for Everyday Life” and, a “Staff Survival Kit for Everyday Life”.

Dunamaise Arts Centre, supported by Laois CONNECTS, hosted “My Name is Emily” a free screening for schools.

The importance of the arts was highlighted this year by Mount Henry Art Studio, who hosted “The Art of Self Care” and, “Let’s Create” activities for children with autism.  Laois Arts Office also hosted “A Toolbox for a Happy, Creative Mind” workshop with Artist/Filmmaker Lisa Fingleton.


Glosna House have come on board again this year with a diverse range of workshops during the week including “The Benefits of Acupuncture” with Collette O’Faolain, “Energy Healing” with Fiona A’Hearne and “Mindfulness Meditation” with Marie Byrne.


It is widely known that physical activity aids our mental health and in keeping with that theme, a number of sport related events including “Go for Life Fun Day” for the older adults along with “Overcoming Adversity through Sport” Talk with special guest Niall McNamee and “Coping with a Critical Incident” with special guests Liam O’Neill and Colin Regan took place.

A number of workshops also took place during the week including “Valuing Volunteers” organised by Laois Partnership Company and Mental Health Ireland aimed at people already volunteering.

Treo Nua Family Resource Centre hosted an Awareness Session “Your Teenager’s Mental Health” highlighting the early warning signs for Mental Health difficulties in young people and supportive steps parents can take organised by the HSE.

Laois CONNECTS Week takes place each year in October.  For information about the programme or if you are interested in taking part or providing an item for the programme, please contact:  Community Development Section, Laois County Council, Tel:  057 86 64107 or email :




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