Published on 

Ministers Donnelly and Feighan launch €13m Healthy Communities Programme

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD and Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD, today launched a new €13m initiative to support increased health and wellbeing services to 19 communities in Ireland.    


Healthy Communities is a new cross-Government initiative to deliver increased health and wellbeing services to 19 community areas across Ireland. The programme will be delivered in partnership with the HSE, local authorities, local communities, statutory, voluntary and community groups. The investment will fund new posts including staff working at community level to engage, support and coordinate these activities in an effective manner.    


Speaking at the launch in the Darndale Bell Centre, Minister Donnelly said: “I am delighted to officially launch Healthy Communities. The goal of the Healthy Communities Programme is to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of the people living in these communities. These initiatives will be delivered in partnership with a number of groups working together to provide a range of dedicated services to build lasting improvements in health and wellbeing.”   


An additional one-off total fund of €4.75m is also being made available, with up to €250,000 per community. The focus of the Healthy Communities Community Enhancement Scheme is to support projects through the local authorities that will positively impact on the health and wellbeing of those who live within the Programme Areas.    


This scheme has demonstrated a collaborative approach with local authorities working together with the local community and stakeholders to identify projects that support the increased use of, and access to, amenities in their areas and that invoke an improved sense of community.  


Minister Feighan said: “Taking an evidence-based approach, this work will build on existing programmes in these areas and mobilise available resources to address local needs to promote health and wellbeing.   


“The 19 areas chosen to participate in this programme are diverse and have distinct needs and requirements. Each programme will be tailored to the local needs of the community to build sustainable improvements in the health and wellbeing for people of all ages living in these communities.”   

Helen Deely, Head of HSE Health and Wellbeing said: “We are really pleased to see our partnership working and health and wellbeing programmes reach into the communities where they are most needed. We can help build the overall wellbeing of these communities through the increased delivery of supports to quit smoking, improve healthy eating and improve mental wellbeing and reduce isolation. For example the increased rollout of parenting programmes with Tusla under Sláintecare Healthy Communities is one of the most fundamental and positive things we can do to support parents and children’s health and wellbeing.”  


Healthy Communities will support the physical and mental health of the communities as well as support improvement in the wider determinants of health in those communities, such as education, housing, social support and the built environment.    


Representing the County and City Management Association and the local government sector, Owen Keegan, Dublin City Council Chief Executive said: “Local authorities are very happy to partner in the Sláintecare Healthy Communities Programme and further develop our engagement with state agencies and the community and voluntary sector to ensure the health and wellbeing needs of our communities are supported.    


“Sláintecare Healthy Communities will take an approach, focusing on wider health determinants in which local government can play a crucial role given our close connections to our communities and our important role in community development, housing, social supports, public space and the built environment.’’   

The Healthy Communities website is available here:


// ENDS   


Note to Editor  


Healthy Communities 2021   

The 19 Healthy community are all Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme areas. The Department of Health worked with the HSE Health Intelligence unit in choosing the communities and with Local Authorities to finalise the areas. The 19 communities span 14 local authorities and are a mix of urban and rural areas.   


 The 19 communities chosen are:   


  • Athlone & Mullingar (Westmeath)   
  • Athy (Kildare)   
  • Ballymun (Dublin)   
  • Bray (Wicklow)   
  • Cavan Town & County (Cavan)   
  • Cherry Orchard (Dublin)   
  • Clondalkin (Dublin)   
  • Clonmel (Tipperary)   
  • Enniscorthy & Wexford Town (Wexford)   
  • Finglas & Cabra (Dublin)   
  • Gaeltacht (Donegal)   
  • Inishowen (Donegal)   
  • Kilmore & Priorswood (Dublin)   
  • Limerick City (Limerick)   
  • Longford Town (Longford)   
  • North Cork City (Cork)   
  • Tallaght (Dublin)   
  • Waterford City (Waterford)   
  • West Mayo (Mayo)   


Key HSE Health and Wellbeing components:   


Social Prescribing: A Social Prescribing link worker will provide interventions and referrals to community-based services in the statutory and non-statutory sector. Social prescribing offers GPs and other health professionals a means of referring people to a range of non-clinical community supports which can have significant benefits for their overall health and wellbeing and has been used to target social isolation, loneliness and emerging mental health difficulties.   


Stop Smoking Advisor: A Stop Smoking Advisor will provide 1-1 support to quit smoking including the provision of NRT or other Stop Smoking medication. They will also promote and support the extension of smoke free environments. While Ireland has made great strides in reducing tobacco consumption, levels of smoking in Ireland continue require concerted effort to support the continued development of a tobacco-free society where people can live longer and healthier lives free from the detrimental effects of tobacco.   


We Can Quit: We Can Quit is a friendly and supportive 12-week programme, providing group behavioural support, nicotine replacement therapy and other stop smoking medication, to help attendees quit smoking and stay quit for good. This group programme has been proven to support people around their smoking by utilising peer and social support as well as professional input.  


Parenting Programmes: Parenting Programmes will provide families with greater access to evidence-based parenting programmes. Parenting programmes have been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve child and parental mental health and wellbeing.    


Healthy Food Made Easy: The Healthy Food Made Easy (HFME) programme will provide a user-friendly nutrition and cookery course that helps people increase their skills to implement a healthy diet, plan meals on a budget and make easy to cook meals.   


MECC: The Making Every Contact Count (MECC) programme will work with local health professionals to ensure they have the up-to-date skills to deliver brief interventions and advice for all patients regarding healthy behaviours (smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, diet and nutrition). This will see an increase in service users and patients being advised to make healthy lifestyle choices and directed to supporting resources and programmes to do so.   


Community Food & Nutrition Workers: With a remit to build capacity, knowledge and skills across communities and to work with local statutory and voluntary partners to improve the food environment and address food poverty and activate agreed national campaigns. These workers will be funded by HSE Health and Wellbeing and employed by community organisations. 


HSE Integrated Alcohol Services: Under Sláintecare Healthy Communities, new Integrated Alcohol Services are also being rolled out in community settings to provide support for people with harmful alcohol use and their families. The community-based team will consist of four counsellors, a Nurse, and a Project Worker. In 2021, services will commence in Cork and Limerick and more services will be rolled out across the country in the coming years. The services will work closely with Alcohol Liaison Nurses in hospitals so that there is a joined up approach to service delivery across community and hospital settings. 


Key local authority components:   

Each of the respective local authorities will coordinate and support the SHCP with the Local Community Development Committees and their existing Healthy City and Healthy County plans as well as recruiting Healthy Community Local Development Officers to coordinate activity from a local authority perspective. This increase in resource for local authorities is aimed at integrating the health and wellbeing agenda with their broader agenda and supporting a social determinants approach to health inequalities.   


Local Partner components:    

Key to local operational delivery are the locally commissioned community partners such as the Local Partnership Companies, Family Resource Centres and others who have an existing reach and engagement into these communities. The Healthy Food Made Easy (HFME), the Community Food & Nutrition Worker as well as the Social Prescribing initiatives will be delivered by local community agencies such as these to build on existing programmes and assets at community level.    


Community Enhancement Fund  

As part of the Department of Health’s investment in the 19 communities, a total fund of €4.75m has been made available, which equates to up to €250,000 per community. The focus of the Sláintecare Healthy Communities Community Enhancement Scheme is to support projects that will positively impact on the health and wellbeing of those who live within the 19 communities.   


This scheme has demonstrated a collaborative approach with local authorities working together with the local community and stakeholders to identify projects that support the increased use of, and access to, amenities in their areas and that invoke an improved sense of community.    


Among the projects to receive funding are Community Garden and Growing initiatives, Health Activity Hubs and social spaces and recreational development and enhancement initiatives. These include outdoor table tennis tables, upgraded walking and running trails which are accessible for all, innovative natural play areas for children, additional outdoor furniture, bike fleets, and many more interesting and noteworthy projects.