Monday 20 November 2017

What does ‘home’ mean to Irish people?

Bricks and mortar make a house, but what makes a home?

Talking property still remains unabated as one of Ireland’s national obsessions and while finding the right place to live means many different things to different people, much of what goes in to making that house a ‘home’ cannot necessarily be bought.

Bord Gáis Energy and Focus Ireland have launched a three-year partnership and have asked Irish adults and children to describe their sense of ‘home’ as part of ‘A Helping Hand’ campaign that aims to help prevent family homelessness in Ireland.

For some of the adults surveyed, it’s as simple as “mum’s dinners”; “loads of space” or “a safe place”. For others, it’s “a massive double bed all to myself” or “a place to put up my posters”.

For the children it ranged from “loads of space so that I can play football and tumbles, go on my bike and skateboard” to “it looks like a rectangle!”

Here are 4 themes that came through from Irish people describing their definition of ‘home’ in 2017:

1. “Bringing up family”

Whether it’s property prices and mortgage deposits, scarcity and soaring rents, owning a house is now an aspiration for many people across the country and for some it remains completely out of reach.

We’re still dreaming of the perfect home however as a place for “bringing up family” and making memories and “being surrounded by people you care about and who you know care about you”.

Architect Dermot Bannon from RTÉ’s ‘Room to Improve’ has described Irish people as still having “an unhealthy obsession with property”.

We’re watching in hundreds of thousands across the country and his home makeovers and stories of the people renovating are compelling viewing making ‘Room to Improve’ one of the most watched programmes on RTE in 2016 with over 679,000 viewers.

2. “It’s not a building”

A well designed space can nurture the soul and every home has its own personality. “It’s not a building”, said those asked to define home. “With the people I love I’d like to get a place that I love. That’s a powerful thing”.

Declan O’Donnell, one of the presenters of the 2017 Home of the Year says that “everyone, regardless of budget, can use design to make better and happier homes”

“For me, design and happiness sit side by side, because a home needs to work for the way you live, but also reflect who you are. Since we’re all so different, this means that behind every front door there is something unique – and that really excites me.”

3. “My Anchor”

Tradition, rather than logic, still drives our attitude towards the land in Ireland, and while we’ve moved on some way from scenes characterised by the Bull McCabe in John B Keanes play The Field, on average, land is still only traded every 400 years in Ireland and we still view our homes and land as an anchor.

That sense of connectedness and place came through in the Bord Gáis Energy/Focus Ireland interviews: “I would be lost and I would be drifting without a home. It’s my anchor.”

4. “A warm, cosy place” – “A safe space”

Despite rising prices, we’re still striving to climb the property ladder and think of our home as our safe haven. Whether that’s the smell of baking bread, favourite photographs and paintings, a warm fire, the family pet or a favourite armchair, we look at our homes as “a nice warm place and very safe and cosy”. “You can do what you like and there’s nobody interrupting you” and “A place I can close my door and know I’m safe inside”.

Today there are 7,167 people homeless in Ireland and one in three is a child.

The Bord Gáis Energy partnership with Focus Ireland is helping to minimise the effect of losing a home, to ease the disruption that homelessness can cause to everyday life and to aid the creation of a sustainable long term solution to the issue.

To date, the partnership has:

* Given vital support to 2,283 parents and children in emergency accommodation

* Delivered specialist advice and support to 339 families on the brink of homelessness, to keep them in their homes

* Reached out to 2,500 families at risk of homelessness to provide preventative assistance

If you’d like to give #AHelpingHand and pledge support to prevent family homelessness, sign up here.


Sponsored by: Bord Gais

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