Sinead Minchin of Ballinkillen Community Alert was recently asked for her experiences on Community Text Alert with CommunityAlerts.ie. She was happy to give a full account of their experiences to date, which includes using the CommunityAlerts.ie Text Alert service as their provider over the past 12 months. From the initial public meeting to sending out all their alerts, Sinead offers a complete breakdown here:
Case Study: Ballinkillen, by Sinead Minchin (Secretary):
In February 2013 a small group of locals in one area in Ballinkillen were discussing recent burglaries in the locality and felt it would be a good idea to set up a community alert text scheme to help prevent or minimise the amount of crime (mainly household and farm burglaries) in the area. The intention was purely to help people feel safer in their homes and in turn to hopefully eliminate burglaries in and around the area of Ballinkillen.
I, (The Now Secretary of the Community Alert Group) called a public meeting in the local Community Centre. The meeting was open to all members of the public and advertised in the local papers, newsletter and by word of mouth. The meeting was attended by approximately 200 members of the local community, all eager to get involved. Guest speakers from a neighbouring community alert group, CommunityAlerts.ie and members of the Gardai as well as a representative also attended. The meeting was a great success with keen interest from everyone in the area and from there a working committee was formed. At the beginning there was a lot of liaising with local Gardai and CommunityAlerts.ie to ensure the smooth set up and ongoing running of the scheme. The help and assistance of the Gardai as well as CommunityAlerts.ie was vital to the success as they had the experience of how other Community Alert Groups were working and ideas on what would help us as we were setting up
The committee decided a membership fee of EUR10 per mobile number from all members should cover the cost of the text alerts for the year, as well as the initial set up costs such as subscription to CommunityAlerts.ie, Insurance, Affiliation to Muintir Na Tire and the purchasing of 10 signs to erect in the area to show that there was a Local Community Alert Scheme in the place. Committee members collected membership from the Ballinkillen surrounding areas and there was an approximate up take of 95% to the scheme. People in the area were delighted that the scheme was been set up and all felt it was a great idea to help try eliminate rural crime as well as been a system that can be used for other alerts such as Child Rescue Alerts and the promotion of activities in the local area.
The scheme is now running for just over a year and we have sent 28 text alerts so far from the system. A recent meeting between Local Gardai and Community Alert Groups showed that rural crime in the area has been reduced and they feel the Text Alert Schemes and signs advertising that the areas are part of Community Text Alert Scheme has had a significant benefit to this reduction. The local Gardai are a great asset to any local community and have been extremely helpful in the success of our scheme so far. The Gardai now have access to our Text Alert System which allows them to send Alerts direct from the Garda Station to all members of our Community Alert Group. This too shows the keen interest the Gardai have in the local Community Alert Groups and find it to be very useful in helping with any enquiries they have when looking for support from members of the public.
As the scheme has been running for over a year we recently had our AGM, at which feedback from the members of the scheme was given and all reports were that the scheme is working as it should be and all are happy to renew their membership. We currently have 418 members of the scheme and we expect this to grow as membership for the coming year is now been collected.
Having used CommunityAlerts.ie as our service provider we feel the system is very easy to manage. Alerts have been sent from the phones and from computers and all have been delivered to all members of the community within a few minutes. This can be easily checked with the online system provided by CommunityAlerts.ie using the personal log in details for our group. I would highly recommend the services of CommunityAlerts.ie not just for the efficency of sending the actual texts but the back up support too is vital. I contacted CommunityAlerts.ie with some queries during the year and all were answered quickly and efficiently, and it always helps that there is an actual person at the end of the phone that will take your call or reply to an email you send them. I feel this is very important when choosing a service provider.
Sinead Minchin, Secretary of Ballinkillen Community Text Alert, Co. Carlow