Minister Michael Creed with Cllr. Finola Armstrong-McGuire and Michael Heslin of Social Farming Ireland.
Leitrim-based social enterprise project, Social Farming Ireland, is one of the eight successful awardees of the €1.6 million Social Enterprise Development Fund.
Joseph Gilhooly, Director of Services, Leitrim County Council, welcomed the announcement.
Social Farming Ireland coordinates social farming activities in Ireland, by providing placements on farms for a range of people including people with disabilities, those recovering from mental ill health and brain injuries, young people, older people, long-term unemployed, and asylum seekers.
They are focused on working with families of farmers or growers, where small numbers of people benefit from individualised support and the opportunity to take part in day-to-day farm activities in a non-clinical environment.
These social farms operate with a strong emphasis on a person-centred approach, community connections, social inclusion and on enabling participants to do ‘ordinary things in ordinary places.’
The fund was set up to support social enterprises from across the country to achieve their goals and create measurable social impact that can be scaled all over Ireland. The €1.6 million fund, created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland, is supported by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development from the Dormant Accounts Fund.
Chosen from over 100 applicants from almost every county in Ireland, the 8 successful awardees, made up of a mixture of urban, town and rural social enterprises, will not only receive a cash grant of €50,000, but will also land a place on Ireland’s most prestigious Accelerator Programme for social enterprises.
The Accelerator Programme is run in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and provides intensive, expert and bespoke supports for social enterprises to hone their social impact, business skills and accelerate their growth.
Deirdre Mortell, Chief Executive Officer, Social Innovation Fund Ireland said: "We believe that we’ve found amazing organisations that are already creating real change and, with the support of this new fund, will grow and reach more and more people in need of their work. These awardees collectively demonstrate the powerful impact social enterprises can have on every community across Ireland."
Joseph Gilhooly said: "Social Enterprises hold the key to creating sustainable communities across Ireland and today’s awardees are excellent examples of how social enterprises such as theirs are achieving these goals. We are delighted to partner with Social Innovation Fund Ireland in creating this invaluable fund and to host this inspiring event.”