Promoting Social Inclusion


Community Smoke Alarms
Smoke Alarms

In 2017, Laois County Council Community Section in association with the Laois County Fire & Rescue Services engaged in the scheme to purchase 1500 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

Launch 1



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.

Laois Age Friendly Information Afternoon – 26/9/17

Laois Public Participation Network is association with Laois County Council and Laois Older Peoples Forum, played host to over 150 people who attended an Age Friendly Information Afternoon in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise on Tuesday 26th September last.

The event included information stands from 26 service providers, both local and national, and presentations by Laois PPN and Laois Older Peoples Forum.

Most importantly on the day, the older people of Laois got a chance to gain some valuable information from the service providers and meet other older people in their county.  Secretariat member of Laois PPN Paddy Buggy discussed the importance of older people and their views and how Laois PPN can assist with this through representation on relevant committees and through organising events like this.

Shane Winters on behalf of Laois Older Peoples Forum highlighted the value of older people’s contribution to society and the importance of their views in terms of transport, outdoor spaces, respect and inclusion of older people socially, civic participation, access to information and health services, to name but a few. Shane also explained the “message in a bottle” initiative and advised all present that the bottles were available to take away for free.  Smoke alarms were also given out on the day.

The aim of the event was to bring older people in Laois together and to allow them to access relevant information in one room. Overall the afternoon was a great success.

The goal of the Laois Age Friendly Programme is to improve the quality of life for older people across County Laois.  The aim is to ensure that through making improvements to service delivery under many headings, older people will be heard, their life experience learned from and they will be nurtured and feel safe and well in their Autumn years.

Laois Age Friendly Business Recognition Scheme

As part of the Age Friendly Programme the Age Friendly Business Recognition Scheme was launched after the Information Day concluded.  This Scheme acknowledges local businesses in Laois who have agreed to become Age Friendly and in this regard, over 40 businesses, who had attended workshops and made detailed commitments of their proposed age friendly services, were presented with their Age Friendly Charter.

These businesses have agreed to embark on this Age Friendly journey by making changes to the way they deliver their service, thus making the older person feel welcome, appreciated, supported to be independent, and most importantly to make their customers feel that they will come back to their shop or service again and again.  By advertising themselves as Age Friendly businesses, they are letting older people know that the business values their custom and are committed to serving them.

If you have a business or service that you might like to advertise as Age Friendly and want more details on the Age Friendly Business Recognition Scheme, Tel. 057 8664107, log on to or email

The following businesses were presented with their Age Friendly Charters:

ABBEYLEIX – Clelands

BALLYROAN – Gala Service Station

BORRIS-IN-OSSORY – Gala, Midlands Service Station

CLONEYGOWAN – Linda’s Shop

DURROW – Daybreak

GRAIGUECULLEN – Topline Doyles and Kelly’s Pharmacy

PORTARLINGTON – Daniels Centra Shop and Café, Fifty Seven Boutique and Gift Emporium and Mullaney’s Pharmacy

PORTLAOISE – Specsavers, Gerry Browne Jewellers, Goodwin’s Footwear,

SuperValu, Parkside, Mulhall’s SuperValu, Born Fashions, The Parlour Hair Salon, Tesco, Shaws Department Store, Petworld, Portlaoise, Laois Shopping Centre and Telford’s Portlaoise

MOUNTMELLICK – Applegreen Service Station, Bella Hair Studio,

O’Gorman’s Newsagents, The Hare’s Corner Restaurant, Mountmellick Development Association Ltd, Cleo Aroma Therapies, McConville’s SuperValu,

The Coffee Pot, Gala, Emmet Stores, Balcony Cinema, T & C Garden Centre and Nora’s Cake Shop.

MOUNTRATH – Telfords and Martyn’s Centra.

RATHDOWNEY – Rathdowney Post Office, The Card Stand, O’Malley’s Pub,

Keane’s Petrol Station, Fortunes Fashions and Rathdowney Golf Club

STRADBALLY – Phelan’s Mini Market

THE HEATH – Treacy’s Pub & Restaurant and The Gandon Inn

TIMAHOE – The Corner Shop, Timahoe


The Start your Own Business Course for those aged over 55 focuses on those with a business idea and are unsure as to how to develop the idea into a business plan.  This programme will provide individuals who are seeking to start their own business with the skills, management tools and expertise in making the right decisions, planning and organising effectively.  The 4 day programme will guide you through the various aspects of starting and running a business.  The objective is to assist you in assessing the viability of your business idea.  The programme will be delivered on March 16th & 23rd and April 6th & 13th.

Course Outline:

  • Self-Assessment
  • Preparing a Business Plan
  • Business Set Up
  • Cashflow and Cash Collection
  • HR and Employment Legislation
  • Sources of Finance
  • Costing and Pricing
  • Researching the Market
  • Marketing for the Small Business
  • Legal Issues for Start Ups

Contact Seamus Doran, Local Enterprise Office Laois, County Hall, Portlaoise – 057 86 61800 or email before end of January is you are interested.




The Age Friendly Ireland Programme, currently hosted by Meath County Council, is delighted to let you know that Monaghan County Council are hosting the National Age Friendly Recognition and Achievement Awards for 2017/2018 on 10th April 2018 in County Monaghan.

This is the third annual Awards event for the Age Friendly Ireland Programme and the awards ceremony will be held amid a two day schedule of events in Monaghan (more to follow). The primary aim of these awards is to recognise and reward achievement in age friendly initiatives around Ireland. We are calling for organisations, individuals, agencies and communities to submit applications on projects or programmes that they consider to be age friendly.

This year, eight categories of awards, aligning to the WHO themes, have been chosen as they have a meaningful impact on the lives of older people, planning and creating a sustainable Ireland for all.

The categories are: (WHO theme in brackets)

Getting to where you want to go when you want to go is so important to so many older people. This category recognises the vital difference that access to good quality and reliable transport options can make to an older person.

2. AGE FRIENDLY ACTIVE AND HEALTHY AGEING AWARD (Community Support and Health Services)
We are living for longer, but remaining healthy and active in later years can be a real challenge. This award recognises those initiatives that optimise opportunities for good health in later years, so that older people can continue to play an active role in community life.

3. AGE FRIENDLY BUSINESS INNOVATION AWARD (Civic Participation and Employment)
We know that creating an enjoyable and accessible environment for older consumers pays dividends for businesses and the wider community. This category acknowledges age aware businesses who recognise that older people are both producers and consumers and bring a wealth of experience and expertise to our society.

Feeling safe and secure at home and when out and about greatly enhances the lives of older people. This category acknowledges the impact of community based responses that enable older people to feel secure in their homes and in the wider community, and to know what to do when they don’t.

5. AGE FRIENDLY COMMUNICATION AWARD (Communication and Information)
A lack of access to information is often cited as a barrier to ‘ageing well’ in Ireland. The ability to access clear and concise information can impact on a range of aspects of an older person’s life, from health and wellbeing to social connectedness to financial security. This award recognises efforts being made around the country to bridge the information gap.

6. AGE FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT AWARD (Outdoor Spaces and Buildings)
The built environment has a unique impact on the lives of all older people. Simple things like adequate public seating, level footpaths and appropriate crossing times at pedestrian crossings all have a huge impact on the ability of older people to be active in their towns and villages. This category recognises projects that bring about change in the built physical environment with older people in mind.

7. AGE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY INNOVATION AWARD (Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion)
The voice of the older person is at the heart of the Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme, the Programme is designed and implemented with them and not for them. This award recognises those innovative projects that are driven by older people for older people. These projects not only enhance the lives of older people, but benefit the community at large.

As people age they spend more time in their own homes. This means that older people’s quality of life, and thus their health, can depend on the appropriateness of their home environment and the conditions in which they live. This award recognises innovative housing initiatives that enable older people to remain independent for as long as possible.

We will be welcoming initiatives at both local and national level. We are seeking innovative projects from across this range of areas that have real impact and have the potential to be showcased and replicated.
Applications are now open and you’ll find a link to the application form below, applications can now be edited!

As previously, the judging panel will be made up of a team of age friendly practitioners including older people who will evaluate all proposals and shortlisted projects will be invited to Ireland’s Age Friendly Recognition and Achievements Awards ceremony which will be held on 10th April 2018 in Monaghan.  Each category will be sponsored by a senior stakeholder from across all our key departments and agencies.

***Closing date for applications: 1pm on Wednesday, 31st January 2018***

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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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LAOIS CONNECTS – Community Mental Health Awareness Week


It’s time to get connected with our mental health

The promotion of positive mental health and well-being has always been a focus of Laois CONNECTS Mental Health Week which took place from Saturday 7th October, 2017 until Saturday 14th October, 2017.  The week was organised by Laois Mental Health Collaborative Group, whose members include Laois County Council, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois Partnership Company, Mental Health Ireland, HSE, Laois/Offaly ETB and youth sector representatives.

It is important for us as a community to learn more about our mental health and understand its impact in our daily lives. The overall aim of Laois CONNECTS week is to encourage our communities to talk about mental health, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health difficulties and to encourage the seeking of help at times of crisis. It is also important that we learn how to support a person experiencing mental health difficulties and minimize the risks of poor mental health.

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

A 5K Park Run/Walk launched the week on Saturday 7th October taking place in Vicarstown on the Grand Canal Bank with special guest Laois Rose, Marie Dunne, hosted by Laois Sports Partnership.

The Kathleen Gorman Memorial event took place this year in the Community Centre in Timahoe, where special guest Senator Frances Black was welcomed.  She is one of Ireland’s most iconic singers, and part of the famous all-singing Black Family.  Frances spoke on “Alcohol & Mental Health”.

HSE CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) came on board this year with a number of talk for schools, both students and teachers. CAMHS also hosted an Information and Display Stand in Laois Shopping Centre during the week. The HSE Suicide Prevention Resource Officer  hosted a number of SafeTALK (suicide alertness) Programmes, which teaches the skills to become “suicide alert” and HSE Community Health Centre in Portlaoise hosted the following talks, “Bringing Lived Experience into Practice”; “Knowledge is Power”; “Living with Everyday Stressors” and “Living in the Now”.

On the lighter side, Camross Adult Set Dancers invited people to join them for a special dance class where they showned how dance can lead to a healthy lifestyle, integrating the mind, body and soul and make you a happier person.

As part of the week, Mountmellick Community College this year hosted a Film in the Balcony Cinema, Mountmellick called “It’s Kind of a Funny Storey” which was followed by a Q and A session.  Students from all Post Primary Schools across Laois were invited to attend this event. A Public Speaking Event was also held in Mountmellick Library.

The importance of the arts was highlighted again this year by Mount Henry Art Studio, who hosted “Connect and Reflect through Creativity” and, “My Creative Side” activities for children with disabilities.  Laois Arts Office also hosted a Workshop – “Unlocking the Creative Self” with writer and Portlaoise native Pauline Clooney.

Golden Egg Holistic has joined us this year with “Complementary Therapies for Mental Health” and “Sound Meditation Class”.

It is widely known that physical activity aids our mental health and in keeping with that theme, a number of sport related events including a Gathering for Older Adults in the Community Centre, Vicarstown along with a Wellness Afternoon in the Heritage Centre, Timahoe.

Laois CONNECTS took place between Saturday 7th October and Saturday 14th October, 2017. For full details of the Laois CONNECTS programme, log on to, check out www/ or contact Community Development in Laois County Council, Tel:  057 86 64107 or email :





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