How to become a voice for your local community

Cork County Public Participation Network (PPN) has launched a new campaign to encourage local groups to get involved. Here Liam McCarthy of the PPN tells us why it’s important
How to become a voice for your local community

Liam McCarthy from Cork County Public Participation Network (PPN).

WHEN I joined Youghal Little Theatre several years ago, I never imagined the journey I was embarking on, and how it would bring me to where I am now - on the Secretariat of Cork County PPN where I can have a say in the policies adopted by Cork County Council and how those policies affect my local community.

I am an acting member of Youghal Little Theatre and am currently their chairperson. I have taken acting roles in several of their plays over the years, but I am also keenly aware of the need to have a strong “backstage” support for any organisation. This is why, we at Youghal Little Theatre always encourage the person who sweeps the floor of the hall after a production just as we encourage the person who takes the lead role. In theatre parlance “there is no such thing as a small role”.

Youghal Little Theatre nominated me for a seat on the Secretariat of the Cork County PPN which is a group of 22 Community Leaders elected by the PPN membership to co-ordinate and oversee the work of the PPN on behalf of all the member groups. They also nominated me to sit on the Cork County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) during the previous Local Authority Term (2014-2019). This enabled me to be part of the process of consultation with An Garda Siochana and Cork County Council around policing and crime issues across the three Garda Divisions in County Cork.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

As we emerge from the pandemic that put so much on pause, we at Cork County PPN have launched a new campaign to encourage local organisations to get vocal, participate and thrive from the range of benefits available through the PPN.

Cork County PPN has launched a new campaign to encourage local groups to get vocal, participate on Council committees and thrive from the benefits of being part of the Public Participation Network (PPN). Pictured at the launch (L-R) were Tom Howard from Carrignavar Community Council, Cork County Mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan, Noel Casserly from Green Skibbereen, Sandy McGroarty Cork County PPN and Beata Migas from the Let Me Be Me Programme. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Cork County PPN has launched a new campaign to encourage local groups to get vocal, participate on Council committees and thrive from the benefits of being part of the Public Participation Network (PPN). Pictured at the launch (L-R) were Tom Howard from Carrignavar Community Council, Cork County Mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan, Noel Casserly from Green Skibbereen, Sandy McGroarty Cork County PPN and Beata Migas from the Let Me Be Me Programme. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

Cork County Public Participation Network (PPN) is a network of hundreds of non-profit, community and voluntary groups which range from community councils to tidy towns groups, sports clubs, environmental conservation groups and groups representing minorities. I am part of the current Secretariat which will oversee the elections to fill these seats. We will also oversee the training and familiarising of the newly elected representatives with the workings of the County Council Committees.

Cork County PPN aims to empower community groups through electing representatives to take their seats around policymaking tables where decisions are made that impact people and communities across Cork County. 

We are calling for nominations to fill the 37 Cork County Council committee seats reserved for PPN Representatives, with nominations closing on November 5. These committees are where local policies are developed for such important areas as policing, Housing, Roads and Transport, Planning and Strategic Development, Social Inclusion as well as Arts, Culture and Language.

WHAT WILL YOU HAVE TO DO

As a PPN Rep, you will sit around the table with local councillors, council staff and other sectoral reps and have your say on the policies that impact all our communities.

Even though everyone has a particular interest in say acting or tidy towns or environmental issues we all also have a general interest in the greater community. After all, there won’t be a stage to act on if we do not have an environment to live in! We all want to promote and support our community, our local area, our county and our country. The PPN helps us in doing this. 

It gives us a network of likeminded community groups across the county, but it also puts us in touch with a network of other groups in our locality so we can support each other to support our local community.

The PPN is one of the most valuable mechanisms for local groups to engage with local government.

THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD

Active citizen participation is pivotal to making a positive impact and to strengthen communities across the county. Everyone has a voice to be heard and the PPN offers local organisations an important way in which to have their say and to keep abreast of plans and decisions that may affect and impact their communities or groups.

Cork County PPN Coordinator Sandy McGroarty has just started with us. She says: “Our democracy is stronger when we have diverse views and interests considered as part of local government decision making.

“As we emerge from a pandemic, faced with a Climate and Biodiversity emergency and a housing crisis, now more than ever we need to come together to build sustainable and resilient communities.

“The PPN gives Cork communities a voice as well as the opportunity to connect, grow and learn from one another.”

Local groups not only get to participate in policy making through the 37 seats allocated to PPN members on various Cork County Council committees, but they will also gain access to the most upto-date information on planning, funding opportunities and public consultations.

Added to that, PPN members can also avail of free training throughout the year on topics such as Fundraising, social media and GDPR for Community Groups.

Those who are involved in a community group and are interested in joining the PPN or being elected for one of the 37 Cork County Council committee seats are advised to log on to its website or email: ppn@corkcoco.ie

For further information visit: corkcountyppn.ie

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