Nua staff member, Patrick Kelly speaks about a fantastic community incentive his family have created.
Aside from my role within Nua as a Maintenance Technician, I am also involved in a new little project called; “The Little Free Shop”. With most things on hold during lockdown, we were trying to find alternative activities for kids and for the people of local communities in general. With level 5 restrictions in place and people being asked to stay within a 5 kilometre radius of their homes, my family and I decided to do something to help generate some excitement and community spirit in our locality.
My little girl, Louisa, pictured on the right, is a very inventive person and wanted to come up with something that would help everyone ease their way through current times, and so, we were happy to encourage and support her with this. With much excitement, Louisa sat down at the kitchen table, got a pen and paper and started brainstorming ideas in the old-fashioned way.
During these brainstorming sessions, we asked ourselves what we could do for the local community. We thought about Christmas coming up and the pressure people might feel at this time. We had lots of things at home that we could pop in for other people to benefit from. We wanted to incorporate generosity into this project and to do something that involved as many people in the community as possible. So, we decided that it would be a nice idea to create something that gets the ball rolling for everyone in our proximity, minus the face-to-face interaction. We decided to design this little free shop, starting with the emphasis on doing something for Halloween, by leaving out little bags of trick or treat items and encouraging people to leave out what they wished for sharing.
Our daughter then decided it would be great to encourage pen pal writing, bringing back an old tradition. It would get people out for a walk in our locality to drop off a letter and return home to write another, and would be a great way of getting to know people. We moved to Ballintubbert, Laois, 2 years ago, and at the time it was quite rushed due to school starting and so, didn’t have an opportunity to get to know our neighbours fully, then unfortunately Covid-19 restrictions prevented it from happening for most of this year also.
We felt there were people from all demographics that our Little Free Shop would appeal to and developing it has been really exciting. We have had people donate board games to the shop without us even prompting them. We are running a little prize for the local area with a ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ competition on Instagram to get the word out and get as many people involved as possible. We are doing what we can within our limitations in regard to our restrictions, but hopefully once those restrictions are lifted, it will go further afield.
Seen as our daughter was involved in coming up with the ideas and helping us develop it, we decided we would like her to be part of the marketing element too. As everything has gone online these days, we thought Instagram would be a good place to start. With the page going from strength to strength amongst locals over the past few weeks, we certainly hope the trend continues!! Now that Halloween is over and all eyes are on Christmas, we have started supplying the Little Free Shop with essential grocery items and stamps for people to take, and hopefully we’ll see others leaving some goods there too. That’s what it’s all about.
We recently donated a little dolls house we bought for Louisa and her sister, Wendy, when they were very young. Before giving it away, the girls painted it and put some new wallpaper in it as well, it’s all very exciting!
Nua Healthcare have also kindly supported us with this initiative by donating One For All Vouchers.
So, that is our Little Free Shop and we hope people have been inspired by it and that it helps us all recreate that lovely sense of community spirit we were accustomed to this time last year! Our motto is; “Take what you need, bring what you can”. To find out more, you can follow us on Instagram here.