Local Social Enterprises told ‘now is the time to have your say’ as work on a new national policy for Ireland gets underway.

Dr Andrew Forde, Head of the Social Enterprise Unit in the Department of Rural and Community Development praised local social enterprises at the recent Coffee Connect event in Airfield Estate run by the SEED Regeneration Programme for social enterprise. To the social enterprise attendees he spoke of his admiration for their ‘resilience and work in making a difference to local communities’, promising additional supports later in the year, including a bigger Capital Grants Scheme. He also confirmed that collaborations for a new national strategy for social enterprise will start shortly giving our social enterprises the opportunity to highlight their issues and concerns for the sector. ‘Now is the time to have your say’ agreed Dr Forde and host Chris Gordon (CEO, Irish Social Enterprise Network) as questions arose about the potential for future supports to include staff wages.

Dr Forde also spoke about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of founders, managers and all involved in working with social enterprises, acknowledging that the risk of burn out is very real as organisations struggle to replace lost income, have reduced numbers of staff, and are working with revised strategic plans. ‘Networking and making contacts, is one way to support each other’, he said, ‘as well as potentially leading to future collaborations’. Later this year a census of Social Enterprises will take place nationally and Dr Forde spoke about the information helping with both networking for organisations and his unit’s ability to plan for the sector.

‘There was a live energy in the room and a strong sense of goodwill’ said Southside Partnership’s CEO Sharon Commins, congratulating the exceptional work being done.

Coffee Connect gathered participating social enterprises, mentors, trainers and guests to meet, connect through conversation, and hear from speakers Dr Forde, Host Chris Gordon (CEO, Irish Social Enterprise Network), Aislinn Barrett (Head of Sponsorship and Partnerships, Airfield Estate) and Caroline Gardner (CEO Quality Matters, and We Make Good). The organisers, the SEED Regeneration Programme, funded by the Dormant Accounts Fund and supported by DRCD and the ILDN is a consortium of Southside Partnership DLR, Bray Area Partnership, South Dublin County Partnership, and Waterford Area Partnership. The programme provided over 50 social enterprise participants with the opportunity to avail of 30 workshops, almost 275 hours of mentoring, networking opportunities and promotional video opportunities.

You can see videos of our social enterprise clients here.

Celebrating social enterprise in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown at the SEED Regeneration Programme Coffee Connect event, Airfield Estate, Dundrum (Left) Dr Andrew Forde. Head of Social Enterprise Unit, Department of Rural and Community Development. (Middle) Helena O’Neill. Social Enterprise Development, Southside Partnership DLR. (Right) Finn McGuirk. Manager, Enterprise & Employment, Southside Partnership DLR
Busy social enterprise networking at the SEED Regeneration Programme Coffee Connect Event, Airfield Estate (Right) Sharon Commins. CEO, Southside Partnership DLR. (Left) Aislinn Barrett. Head of CSR & Partnerships, Airfield Estate