Archive for February, 2010

Smells like start-up spirit

February 22, 2010

What a way to start Monday – inspired by a group of entrepreneurs devoting their entire Sunday to the decoration of a start-up incubation centre. There’s such a strong sense of community around the VI project in Belfast right now that I can only see it succeeding. I know it’s very early days, the proof of the pie is in the eating, yada yada ya, but forgive me for getting caught up in the whirlwind of energy surrounding this initiative – I find it invigorating.

Bytes ‘n Pieces

February 21, 2010

– VI (pronounced ‘six’) is a Virtual Incubator for very early stage companies based in
Northern Ireland
which focuses heavily on mentoring and operational
readiness. It claims to be the first and only entrepreneur-led startup incubator in the UK and Ireland. There seems to be an impressive community spirit surrounding this project even to the point of throwing a paint party today! Follow startvi on Twitter.

Your Call Your Country has been launched in a blaze of publicity. A lot of people behind this are working pro-bono and have their hearts in the right place. So I’ll reserve judgement in the hope that it can generate something better, with more follow through, than the ultimately disappointing Ideas Campaign. One entry that caught eye is Entrepreneur Club. It got my thumbs up but mainly because OpenCoffee Club Ireland already ticks most of the boxes. No need to re-invent the wheel folks, just help us get the word out about what’s already working and has been for a number of years.

OpenCoffee Club Ireland has over 1,000 members on it’s LinkedIn network and is mercifully spam free. It seems that wherever you are in the country there is now an OpenCoffee Club nearby…. and if not why not start one?

– It’s a few weeks old but I really liked Mark Little’s article in the Sunday Times which conveys a palpable sense of excitement that comes with being in startup mode. And delivers plenty of wisdom – “They all remind me of the golden rule for any digital entrepreneur:
it’s not the technology that matters but the benefit it delivers to
real people. I think about this in my hotel room as I watch the launch
of Apple’s iPad. The hype means nothing; it’s the human experience that
will count.”

Dervala Hanley wrote a beautiful essay on startup entrepreneurship.

Progress updates from Irish Social Entrepreneurs

February 11, 2010

Below is an update from the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland network on the progress of various projects. 

Education and Learning

Carmel Dunne – Ceol

sales to schools rose by 70% in 2009 compared to figures for 2008. A
similar increase is expected this year, as the organisation goes from
strength to strength. The Ceol pre-school programme is progressing
well, with an independent assessor presently carrying out a review of
the primary junior programmes.

Ceol will have a stand at the
Irish Primary Principals Network in City West next week. With 1,000
school principals due to be in attendance, it should be a great
opportunity for Carmel to spread the word about Ceol. A partnership has
been formed with the INTO to provide on-line professional development
for teachers. Training is currently being piloted on DVD and via an
on-line Forum. They plan to go live on this forum in September 2010.
The future certainly looks very bright.

James Corbett and Keith Kennedy –

Corbett and Keith Kennedy at have partnered with a number of
educational organizations around the country who are currently
trialling their software system with a large number of children and
providing valuable feedback. All signs point to at least three of these
organizations converting to paid customers within the next few weeks
and rolling out the system on a nationwide basis.
Lucia Parle and Robert Lee – i2i arts

The beginning of 2010 saw the establishment of i2i arts as a social
entrepreneurial business setting up in the heart of Cork city. South
Presentation was formerly a convent which is now being reinvented as a
space for the community. The space stands on an acre of ground with
mature gardens including newly renovated areas such as a kitchen, a
group reception room and 5 working spaces from which i2i arts has
established itself. i2i arts will be an independent body sharing a
centre with like minded people and groups. i2i arts will formally begin
workshops / classes mid February and has to date received numerous
enquiries regarding its innovative services.

i2i arts will be
working alongside Foroige and Cork Immigrants amongst others where we
will be sharing ideas and skills . One of their aims is to provide a
welcoming space to offer people the opportunity to enhance their skills
through creative learning and in turn for people to contribute back to
the community.

Margaret Keane –

28th saw the launch of the first webinar in the pilot
webinar series, aimed at both teachers and parents, entitled
“Characteristics of the Exceptionally Able – Faster, Earlier,
Differently.”  Supported by Social Entrepreneurs
Ireland and the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), the
webinars are being broadcast through, a global
educator’s network sponsored by Elluminate. NCTE is using this pilot as
a means to evaluate the use of webinar technology in the delivery of
continuous professional development training to teachers and has
promoted the series through their website, and in their

response to the webinars has been overwhelming with close to 200
parents, teachers, and education support agency staff registering to
view the live or recorded event. 91 participants from all over Ireland
and some from even further a field, such as Brazil and the US, viewed
this first live webinar, where there was lots of lively discussion.
Margaret Keane, founder of, is planning to create a
library of downloadable resources for parents and teachers including
recorded webinars, videos and podcasts.

Michelle Gallen –

Michelle Gallen has been awarded a Level 2 UnLtd award for UnLtd is a charitable organisation set up by seven leading organisations that promote social entrepreneurship. It makes awards of up to £15,000 to support those social entrepreneurs
it believes have the will to make a difference, the vision to know how
to go about it and the determination to make that vision happen.
has also been awarded nearly £3,000 funding from the Irish Language
Broadcast Fund to film a unique series of 6 video shorts featuring
native Irish speakers. Production begins in late February and after
post-production, the finished shorts will be broadcast on‘s new multimedia gallery. 

Talk Irish team have also been busy in the recording studio recently,
working with native speakers to record content for its new SeanFhocal
an Lae service – due to launch soon! Robert McMillen of the Irish News
featured a full page story on Check it out at And  finally, was a regional Finalist in the Ulsterbank Business Achievers Awards 2009

Robert Stephenson – Blastbeat

Blastbeat has had a very interesting year, a great story of the phoenix arising from the ashes.

relocated to the UK in July 09 as a new UK not for profit. Now funded
by the UK government’s Dept of Children, School  & Families,
Blastbeat is now taught in 60 London schools, touching into over 2000.

is pleased to announce the Blastbeat UK finals on 13th July in the O2
Arena in Greenwich. 14,000 students from all over the UK will see the
best six teen bands / acts play for the title of Blastbeat UK
champions. Simultaneously 60 schools Blastbeat music & multimedia
companies will compete to be the best young social entrepreneurs. Major headline guest artist TBA will entertain all.

is now also franchised in The USA, SA, Japan, Sweden, India and
Malaysia with more to be announced in the next quarter. Blastbeat
will not run in Ireland in 2010 due to lack of sponsorship but hopes to
return in 2011 when the climate for sponsorship is more positive. For
more info contact

Sr. Antoinette Keelan – St John’s Education Centre

John’s is in the final stages of an evaluation by two inspectors from
the Department of Education and Science. All projects that receive
funding or salaries from the department are being examined to determine
how effective they are and if the model could be replicated elsewhere.
Initial feedback has been positive, with the written report due back in

While all projects are struggling with aspects of the
recession, St John’s are making the most of it by increasing their
volunteer team. This has added some youth and vigour to the project! 

Due to Social Entrepreneurs
Ireland funding, St John’s launched a very exciting Parent Support
Programme on the 1st of February. It will offer phone services, a
drop-in centre and talks for parents. The aim is to lead parents to
engage in programmes and training.

Finally, St John’s are also
organising a Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT) Certificate
Course for their team, the parents and the teachers from the network
schools. This aims to break new ground in engaging all of these
stakeholders in active partnership, discussion and learning.


Caroline Carswell – Irish Deaf Kids

has been short-listed for Ireland’s eGovernment Awards 2010, to be
announced on February 19, 2010. The awards, presented in association
with Eircom, aim to “raise awareness and recognise the innovators,
developers, forward thinkers and experts who are pioneering the changes
happening in how the Irish Government delivers services to its

criteria for the 2010 shortlist will look at how real cost-savings and
efficiencies can be achieved through collaboration across the public
sector to foster efficiency, leadership and innovation within online
government services. Points will be given for self-service options,
start-to-finish interactive processes, creative problem-solving, and
potential for cost and/or resource savings.

Declan Sweeney – ReConnect Autism

Autism has had a busy time of late. They are currently offering a new
introductory, educational 6-week course for families interested in
“dipping a toe” before investing in a 6 month program.  It’s proving
popular already!  

Declan launched the service officially at the end of October, interest
has been good so far. It has been picked up by elements in the media,
with additional interest from autism bloggers, Facebook and Twitter.
Declan has been on the road speaking at a number of support groups
about the Relationship Development Intervention Programme.

finally, ReConnect Autism is growing! “He” has become “they” with a
part-time marketing director working pro-bono to help Declan grow the
business and a new consultant in training joining the team.

New Communities


Golden Anikwe – Co-opperative Support Services

clients have been secured to date. CSS has engaged with representatives
of immigrant communities to secure further clients. E.g. Heads of
Churches, Mosques and other ethnic community associations etc.

The launching of some of the co-operative clients takes place on:

27th March at Maldron Hotel Tallaght, Dublin – Baffles Entertainment & Event Management Co-op Society Ltd. Dublin.

27th Feb at Firkin Crane Theatre, Shandon Street, Cork – MEH Hair & Beauty Co-op Society Ltd. Cork;

6th March(Venue to be confirmed) – Lady Shiela Musical Band Co-op Society Ltd. Limerick;

2nd Week in March at Unit 44a Ballybane Ind. Estate, Galway – His & Hers Community Recreational Co-op Society Ltd. Galway.

Helen O’Grady – Doras Luimni

Luimni are a support organisation catering for all migrants. In her
role as Education & Employment Coordinator, Helen’s main
responsibilities are promoting the rights of asylum seekers, refugees
and migrants through the provision of information and support,
particularly in relation to accessing education and training
opportunities that will lead to employment.

An integral part
of the work is advising all clients of their entitlements to education
and training, including financial assistance, relevant to their status.
Research has shown that people who come through the asylum system and
are granted refugee status/leave to remain status need targeted
strategies to enable them to gain entry to the labour market. 

to these needs, Helen liaises with local organisations/institutions and
statutory agencies. In addition, she organises information seminars and
programmes, the most recent being an Employability Workshop hosted
jointly by Doras Luimni, Integrating Ireland and RIS which brought
together refugees/persons with leave to remain, members of the local
business community and representatives of the statutory agencies.

currently manages a service where Doras volunteers provide language,
literacy and IT classes for up to 300 migrants weekly.

Jonathan Gunning & Miquel Barceló – The Gombeens

Gombeens are organising a tour of Stories of a Yellow Town to
universities throughout Ireland.  Stories of a Yellow Town is a
beautifully intertwined performance of personal stories and
observations collected from the Brazilian and Irish people in Gort. 
For a short video go to

Late last year the Gombeens performed a fantastically well received show to a mix of department heads and students in NUIG.
are putting together a 2 hour package consisting of a talk on the
Brasilian migrants given by Gort community development officer Frank

anybody has any good contacts from Irish Universities in any department
that deals with culture, integration, Latin American studies, or
Anthropology, please pass them on to Jonathan and Miquel.

Juliet Amamure – Diaspora Women’s Initiative (DWI)

has carried out two meetings and one round table discussion to map out
demand and supply for childcare needs in Dublin based on hospital and
HIV service providers. DWI Board of Management has been trained in
strategic planning and financial management. Fundraising training is in
the pipeline.

80 people attended a fundraising night officiated
by TD Joe Costello at Melody bar and restaurant. €280 worth of raffle
tickets were sold, with entertainment provided by Rwandan dancers and
an African DJ.

Zoe O’Reilly – Súil Eile

is in the second year of a PHD in NUI Maynooth focusing on the use of
participatory photography in researching migration and asylum in
Ireland. As part of this research, Zoe will soon be starting a new
participatory photography project with a group of asylum seekers.

is also in the process of organising an exhibition of the images from
the Súil Eile anti-trafficking project in Orissa, India last winter
(funded by Simon Cumbers fund). This project worked with a group of
nine adivasi (tribal) women between the ages of 14 and 24 who had
experienced human trafficking.  The project aimed to work towards the
prevention of this human trafficking through the creation of awareness
primarily in the local area and then extending awareness to national
and international levels. After the project, a photographic cooperative
was set up in conjunction with Pragati (local partner NGO) and four of
the women are now earning a living from photography. The exhibition
will take place in the Irish Aid centre on O’Connell Street.

Community and Active Citizenship

Clare Muireann Murphy – Community Storytelling Initiative

Community Storytelling Initiative spawns local storytelling group:

Muireann Murphy’s International Project that worked with asylum seekers
and refugees has produced a group of storytellers.  Called “The Once
upon a time tellers”; this group had their first gig, which was also a
national gig, at the Dublin Yarnspinners on January 14th.  The group is
only finding its feet but already other demands for their wonderful
traditional African telling have come.  This is a very exciting
development for the Community Storytelling Initiative as it indicates
sustainability and long term success for storytelling as a tool for social inclusion.

In other Clare News:
Muireann Murphy will play a week’s run at the Unicorn theatre in
London.  On the Heels of the Hound is a family show of Irish mythology
sure to get the blood racing and the heart thumping. Come along or
spread the word!

Community Storytelling Initiative…the next step.
interest in her work has been abundant lately and a way forward for CSI
Galway to become a long term sustainable initiative are in the works. 
Clare will provide more information as it develops. 

Conor O’Leary – Rural Arts Network

Arts Network is busy building up a sustainable model which involves
community based Training, Touring, Consultancy and Development.

news that renowned Irish traditional singer Mary McPartland along with
musicians Rick Epping and Aidan Brennan are to participate in a Rural
Arts Network concert and workshop tour to at least six counties in May.
The tour will involve workshops for the local volunteers to enhance
their hosting and promotion skills.
Meanwhile Rural Arts Network
is half-way through delivering a 15 week FETAC level 5 training course
in association with Wicklow VEC, 12 participants are ‘Building Cultural
Communities’ and have devised and will be organising at least 8
different events as part of the programme.

Development continues in Westmeath. The volunteers are gaining in
confidence after the success of their night of music, story and song
and are now planning art and drama workshops, a set dancing weekend, a
film night and participation in the Mary McPartland tour!
planned projects in 2010 feature another tour, new network development,
more training courses and the targeting of young promoters.

Fiona Sexton – Volunteer Centres Ireland

Fiona is working on a project for Volunteer Centres Ireland (
called Bridging the volunteering Gap. Why? 14,000 volunteers registered
via their 20 centre network last year but there were only suitable
roles and opportunities for 50% of those people.

Fiona is
writing content and producing a web-based toolkit to help organisations
engage with volunteers more strategically – with specific focus on
building organisational capacity by involving volunteers with corporate
skills (legal, HR, mentors/leaders, IT, accountants, marketers, project
managers, volunteer managers etc). 

Fiona is writing case
studies of organisations with well-developed volunteer strategies, real
stories about volunteers who are already bringing their business skills
to the sector and lastly best practice guides for managing volunteers.
Fiona is also introducing new database functionality (25,000 registered
volunteers) so the centre staff can search for volunteers according to
skill set. 7 months in and 5 more to go until project completion, Fiona
is on track, there is great enthusiasm for the material. Once created
the toolkit will be promoted to charity organisations via the national
network of volunteer centres (20) and directly to the database which
consists of 6000 community and voluntary organisations.

Frank Buckley – Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI)

SARI has been chosen as the Charity  Organisation by Warner Brothers for the
Irish Premier of Invictus.

17th March
Insaka Ireland will represent SARI in the City Fusion Programme in the St Patrick’s Day Festival.            .

27th/28th March
SARI’s FWF International – 5 Regional “RESPECT” Futsal challenge tournament.  SARI invited teams from England, Wales, Scotland,
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to participate in this tournament.

in conjunction with our partners in FARE have invited a “RESPECT” team
to participate in a tournament to be held in Montenegro. (over 50
teams will participate)

for Hope in South Africa – an official FIFA programme. A SARI lead
partnership will participate along with 31 other Football For Hope
Movement member organisations in this tournament which will be held
during the FIFA World Cup Finals. (Alexandra – Joburg – South Africa).

– Over the summer months SARI is hosting a cross cultural community
“RESPECT” challenge tournament with six regions participating (to
include Limerick, Galway, Belfast, Cork, Celbridge and Kilkenny).

Jose Ospina – Carbery Housing Association

says: “Following the bursting of the hyper-inflated housing bubble and
the collapse of the building industry we are left with (apart from
obscene bailouts funded by social cuts and taxes) thousands of empty and unsold homes.

the same time national housing lists top 50K households, and the
council housing programme grinds to a halt. CHA has taken up the issue
of empty houses while thousands are homeless, and have asked Cork
County Council to begin by leasing their void properties to CHA, so
that we can repair and allocate them at our expense. Negotiations are
underway, but painfully slow, and CHA has few resources apart from the
commitment of its Committee, and the certainty that this has to be
done. Any help or ideas are welcome.”

You can contact Jose at or visit the web site

Liam Reámonn – The Living Communities

Living Communities Body now has Irish, French and German Board members.
What is often not generally appreciated is that pressures on minorities
can lead to degrees of suffering. It is these rank social
injustices which The Living Communities are trying to combat. Their
flagship project, for people who speak Irish, has been at times
misinterpreted as an Irish-language promotion.

“Income is what
people require to feel secure.  We are developing an ecotourism
project, with a Gaelic-life presentation as the high point of a tour
with several stops. Our connection to Ceathrú Thaidhg in Mayo is of
prime importance. The task for us is to procure an attractive volume of
tourists for the people there.”

The Living Communities have
chosen a niche market (France and Germany) because the general
marketing of tourism outside the Dublin/Galway/Killarney triangle does
not generally remunerate, as borne out by market research.  Their
philosophies will be fully accessible with the completion of the third
DVD, viewable along with other material, from the website.


Claire Oakes and Martin Dier – Living Democracy

Democracy is an on-line resource to encourage and support citizens to
engage skillfully and effectively with the decision-making system that
affects their lives. It is designed to help ordinary people to
self-organise, realise their power and make change happen.

They are now encouraging all Social Entrepreneurs and “active citizens” to stick a pin on the online map to give your work even more visibility. Help them to help you.

Sharon Vard – Anam Cara

Sharon Vard’s organization Anam Cara has several events coming up in the first quarter of 2010.

February, Anam Cara hosts their 2nd Training and Development workshop
for new and existing front-line volunteers.  Following the success of
this workshop last year, Anam Cara has added another layer for their
existing volunteers to further develop their skills and ensure their
well being going forward.

On 14th March, Anam Cara will host
their Spring 2010 Family event. This annual event is open to families
who have experienced the loss of a son or daughter and by bringing them
together in a safe space, gives Mums, Dads, brothers and sisters an
opportunity to meet and mingle with each other, while taking part in
the many fun activities that are on offer for the day.

news from Anam Cara is that, due to demand, they are currently working
on the development and initiation of a much needed support mechanism
for bereaved adolescents and young adults in Ireland.  The aim is to
launch this service over the next 6 months.

Older People

Albert Perris – Reminiscence Ireland
Ireland has successfully launched its first pilot training programme,
comprising of a series of one day training workshops throughout the
country entitled ‘Introduction to Reminiscence Work- and its role in
effective care planning’.  The first workshop scheduled for Limerick in
March is already booked out and bookings have already been received for
its Sligo workshop in October 2010.
Commenting on the initial
response, Albert Perris said “We are delighted with the initial
uptake.  The response has been extremely positive not just in terms of
the numbers, but in where the response has been from.   We have
received very positive and encouraging feedback and uptake from the
VEC, HSE and a number of Nursing Homes and local development agencies.
Geographically, we have received applications for our workshops in
Cork, Sligo, Galway and Limerick”.
Reminiscence Ireland is
focused on testing the market in 2010 with a view to developing and
rolling out a more comprehensive national training programme in 2011.  
Lessons have already been learned in terms of demand, pricing and
service expectations.

Young People and Children

Dara Hogan – Fledglings Childcare

Childcare are busy implementing the Free ECCE (Early Childhood Care
& Education) Year for 4-year-olds.  This new scheme from OMCYA (the
Office of the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs) is a giant
step forward in that it is a universal entitlement for all children. 
OMCYA fund 15 hours per week for 38 weeks per annum at a flat rate of
€64.50/week.  This is a little below Fledglings’ cost of service
delivery because Fledglings operate at a staff ratio of 1:5 and 1:6
whereas the legal ratio is 1:8.  Early Years services are not permitted
to charge above the subvented rate so this is an issue that needs to be

Dara Hogan convened his first Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Advisory Group
meeting and he was inspired by the advice and support of the experts
who have agreed to serve.  The Advisory Group felt that they could not
wait three months for the next scheduled meeting and they want to meet
again in February!

In addition, the first session with mentor
Hugh O’Donovan was really worthwhile and Dara is about to commence
writing the Phase #2 business plan for Fledglings with the support of
Irene Sorohan of Diageo.

Helene Hugel – Helium

Hugel is in the process of devising a 2-4 year strategy and plan for
Helium, which has included a very successful visioning day with key
stakeholders and ‘big picture’ thinkers.  The half day visioning
session took place in Social Entrepreneurs Ireland building, and was
superbly facilitated by Carol Conway.  Helene has started a blog which
will document this process on the SEI Forum, and can also be read at: where she is inviting key supporters to
follow and comment. 

Helene was also delighted with a two page
article on Helium’s work in the SBP’s Agenda Magazine:  Helium is also devising a PR plan and Social
Media Strategy.  Please become a fan of Helium – Children’s Arts and
Health  on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, both and  Helium will be
launching its new website in March.

Finally, Helene is delighted
to announce that Helium has received its first annual programming grant
from the Arts Council, despite the context of a very difficult
budgetary environment.

Kareen Pennefather – Monkeyshine Theatre

Connections Project 09, supported by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland,
began Monkeyshine’s participatory strand. The aim of the project was to
foster an innovative and meaningful method of developing creative links
with children and young people in the hope of creating theatre, which
truly resonates with young audiences.

The next stage of the 
project will happen in two phases. First the company hope to expand the
project into an intergenerational participatory project that would look
at the place of teenagers in society from different perspectives. 
Working with a larger number of teenagers, together with older adults
and  parent and toddlers. This would be a time both to share skills
with the participants and to research and develop material for a new

The Second Phase would be to produce a professional
theatre production, for teenage audiences that would tour throughout
Ireland and internationally.

Robert Mulhall – Lucca Leadership

Leadership had an amazing 2009 with more than 2,500 young people
attending their leadership training around the world (up from 1,000 in
2008), including a pioneering program in East Timor in December. Lucca
Leadership has also developed 5 new short programs and set up
affiliates in the Netherlands and Macedonia, they have plans to run
programs in Mexico, Pakistan and Vietnam in the coming years. Whilst
competing with the UN for a tender to run a global leadership program
in the developing world, Lucca Leadership was awarded the opportunity
by Dance4Life just before Christmas which will see 21 young leaders
(from 21 countries) and their mentors trained as transformational
leaders in stopping the global AIDS crisis.

In Ireland Lucca
Leadership has started 2010 with a new office, two new interns and a
great line up of activity for the year, with some exciting
conversations and partnerships brewing. Their week long international
program will take place in Ireland from April 3-10th and they are
looking for 16-30 yr olds (-+) who are making a difference in the world
and want to learn how to be a more effective leader.

Environment and Sustainability

Anne Bedos – Rothar

is developing well. Anne is hiring her first member of staff starting
Feb 1st. The first Rothar full time mechanic has been on disability
benefit for a long time and has been involved in Rothar for the past 6
months as a full time volunteer. The management of the shop by a member
of staff enables Anne to implement new strategies for 2010. New
activities are being proposed, such as corporate training and training
for youth workers, refurbishment of vintage bikes, build your own bike
classes and development of cycling classes.

is also launching a new marketing strategy, starting the Me and my
Rothar campaign, proposing to local artists to produce material that
will be printed on postcards and distributed in cafes around Dublin.
the social aspect of things, Rothar will train ex offenders referred by
Jobcare and will provide training to youth groups working with at risk

2010, Anne would like to raise enough funds from the bike shop to
provide more training to people with mental disabilities and people who
have been homeless.”

Michael Kelly – GIY Ireland

Ireland, an organisation which aims to inspire Irish people to start
growing their own food, and give them the skills they need to do so
successfully, is celebrating spring with a national schedule of events
to mark the first national “GIY Week”.

Each month over 2,300
GIYers in over 45 different GIY groups meet nationwide to exchange
tips, knowledge and war-stories about vegetable growing.  There are
approximately two new GIY groups being formed each week around Ireland
and the organisation’s social network at is an
online community of approximately 1,000 growers.

Part of Adult
Learner’s Festival 2010, GIY Week will see GIY groups around Ireland
reaching out to potential new members by hosting talks, meetings,
garden visits, seed and plant swaps, demonstrations and meitheals.  GIY
patrons Darina Allen, Diarmuid Gavin, Clodagh McKenna and Joy Larkcom
will also be involved in events during the week.

Established in
September 2009 by journalist and author Michael Kelly, GIY Ireland
plans to establish a group in every town in Ireland.  GIY sponsors for
2010 include Woodies DIY, AIB and Bord Bia.

Mental and Physical Health

Caroline McGuigan – SOS

Eden Programme
date the Eden Programme has been made available in County Wicklow and
Dublin. The outcome of the three programmes is that the individuals are
alive, are finding ways to stay in this world and SOS are now providing
quarterly workshops for ALL Eden Programme participants so that they
have the opportunity to build up a supportive network and build on
their existing coping skills.

Wellness Workshops
Workshops – SOS have delivered Wellness Workshops to the community,
voluntary sector and corporate sector in Dublin regions, Meath, Wicklow
and Dublin. These workshops focus on managing stress, anxiety and
depression in the workplace or community. Guildelines are explored in
relation to suicide prevention. 

have delivered presentations to communities, workplaces and
universities throughout Ireland. The purpose of these presentations is
to educate people on the work of SOS and to provide an opportunity for
people to access information on how to help someone who is suicidal or
if they are suicidal themselves. These presentations range from 10 to
200 people. 

Information Bureau
service is nationwide and supports a person in assessing what supports
they may need and how to reach them within their community.

Catherine Buckley – Holistic Harm Reduction

Buckley is making steady progress in realising the elements that
combine to make the Holistic Harm Reduction Programme happen in North

The Brief Intervention Programme: 
Catherine is part of a group of Community Based Drugs Workers and
Community Based Addiction Counsellors who have already piloted a Drugs
Programme last term. The group are in the process of writing up this
programme based on the evaluation and recommendations of participants
and facilitators.

The Deep Relaxation: Catherine completed her Diploma in Holistic Massage in Jan 2010 and is awaiting results.

Working with Nature:
Catherine has no shortage of farm skills to share and outdoor
activities to engage the participants. She is upgrading disused cattle
housing to create a space for shelter and seating for participants.

is transferring from her role as Community Drugs Worker in Mallow town
to Drugs Worker in Macroom on March 1st. The Holistic Harm Reduction
Programme has been scheduled to begin week of May 3rd 2010. 

Frances Black – The RISE Foundation

RISE Family Programme is continuing every Friday night in Clarendon
Street in Dublin 2. This programme has been so well received by the
participants that it is intended to roll it out countrywide over the
next twelve months.

The RISE Addiction Awareness and Education
Centre project on Rathlin Island is progressing well. A feasibility
study has been completed by KPMG (jointly funded by The Dept of Foreign
Affairs and The Strategy Investment Board) and RISE is now seeking
Capital funding for the refurbishment of the lighthouse buildings.

has developed very close links with the GAA through their ASAP
programme. The collaborative partnership that has been entered in to
would see RISE and the GAA linking up through the clubs in the
education of communities about the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse,
both for the users and their families.

The mayor of Ballycastle in Co. Antrim has agreed to run a Charity Ball in aid of The RISE Foundation on May 1st 2010.

Joan Hamilton – Slí Eile

busy year ahead for Slí Eile with the launch of the Slí Eile Farm Trust
(SEFT) in April. This exciting new development will see the Slí Eile
headquarters moving to the farm at some point in the future, which will
offer accommodation for sixteen residents, 2 staff and 4 volunteers.
Plans also include a Residential Events Facility catering for twelve
people and a Farm shop. Founder Joan Hamilton is delighted to announce
that the Patron for Slí Eile is Jeremy Irons.

The new kitchen at
Villa Maria – the pilot supported housing service  in Charleville – is
near completion and Joan says that the official opening in March will
present an opportunity to positively promote Slí Eile. These premises
will facilitate increasing production and widening customer base for
the home-baking venture,  which in turn brings further inter-action
between the tenants and the wider community, working to break down the
stigma and barriers associated with people who have experienced mental
health difficulties. Withdrawal of €150,000 revenue by North Cork HSE
meant redundancies, but with volunteers Slí Eile continues to support
people to regain control of their lives .

Kevin Madigan – SOURCE

SOURCE Committee opened a Resource & Information Centre in
Sandyford on the 25th January. Space has kindly been offered by the
Cluain Mhuire Mental Health Service. High quality mental health
information and resources will be available for those with mental
health difficulties and their families. This centre will be open to the
general public and may prove useful to those working or studying in the
area of mental health.

The SOURCE committee won the St John Of
God research award for a study looking at priority areas of research.
This was quite a feat as they were competing against well established
researchers including a number of university based professors.

a bad note SOURCE were unsuccessful in a grant application to the
Mental Health Commission seeking funding to examine service users
perspectives of the mental health act. This grant application was in
collaboration with an established research team. But they will

Krystian Fikert – The PPD

The PPD start the year in great shape, with a ‘David Manley Social Entrepreneur Award’ secured late in 2009, and plenty of activities already planned for 2010:

The first Irish Psychologist is in the process of joining the PPD team, a new online support website was launched at,
new suicide prevention leaflets will be launched in April and a suicide
prevention project will be launched in March. You can join Krystian on

Mary Desmond Vasseghi – Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young

is continuing to support families and effect change. Parents and family
members gathered in Dublin & Cork just before Christmas to attend
memorial services for their loved ones. A new section has been created
to provide community based heart screenings for our youth- HeartCheck
Ireland. It is hoped a heartcheck programme will be rolled out later
this year. HeartCheck has also been shortlisted for an AIB better
Ireland award in the Donnybrook area. It will be canvassing for your
votes in a couple of weeks!

SCDyoung & HeartCheck wish to plant a thought in your minds- How safe are your children in crèche/school/sports club?  
ask if teachers and staff are trained in CPR – and if the facility has
an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) – it should have.

Olivia Carr – WOVE

are continuing their work with two groups and are working with a
project in North Cork who are planning to start a group using the WOVE
template in the near future.  All WOVE therapists are now volunteers so
they are finding ways of functioning despite all the cuts.

are organizing a seminar on Domestic Violence and the Impact of
Domestic Violence on Children on 9th March in Dublin. There is a
seminar in both the morning and the evening to cater for everyone who
wants to attend. RSVP to 085 162 0257 or

Tonia Kusters – Ciunas

after many years of preparatory work, has opened its doors and is
providing affordable complimentary therapies to a wide variety of
carers and those they care for. They hosted a day for 18 carers for
people who suffer from mental illness and they were able to enjoy a
real break with massage and other therapies, group singing, talks on
nutrition etc; families with autism are availing of the services as
well as carers of the elderly and disabled.

Ciunas have the
capacity to treat 100 clients weekly so from these small steps they
will be able to make a real difference in stress prevention in the
community.  They will offer wellness classes next year which will
feature movement therapies; yoga for people with disabilities; singing,
art and creative writing.

James Nolan – FAST Kids

agility, speed & technique held their first inter-school indoor
sport-hall athletics competition in Tullamore from December 14-18 in
conjunction with Offaly Sports Partnership (OSP).

completing 4 months work improving the motor & fitness skills of
over 1000 children in 20 schools, James Nolan, together with fellow
Olympian Gordon Kennedy and with the support of OSP, hosted the first
Competition of its kind in Ireland.

The atmosphere was electric
as the children got behind their schools representatives in each event.
A testimonial received from a Principal of one of the schools involved
in the competition sums up the achievements of the FAST Kids

“Your Inter
School Sports-Hall competition was a great success and provided pupils
who had a talent in this area to showcase their abilities. One of our
pupils in fifth class arrived home from the day of the competition
really delighted as this was the first medal he had ever received.”

Robert Fennell and John Kearney – West Cork Rapid Response

Fennell and John Kearney’s project West Cork Rapid Response vehicle
with Voluntary Doctors has had a busy nine months. Since March 2009
there have been 68 calls out from the 999 controller.

14 lives
have been saved, while 106 people have been helped at various
incidents, ie tractor roll over’s, car crashes, falls through roofs,
deep fat fryers upending, cardiac problems.

On one sad incident there was a silver lining for 6 people who received transplants.

plan for development in 2010 will see extra Doctors in more western
areas coming on board for Trauma Care Training and basic kit. More
helpers are being recruited to assist with the fundraising.

Then in 2011 it is planned to provide a second vehicle, once the finance has been put in place.

Victoria Mackechnie – Kids in the Kitchen

Kids in the Kitchen and FAST Kids have joined together to create ‘FAST Kids in
the Kitchen’ –  they are in the process of approaching schools about
their initiative to get kids fitter and healthier through exciting
physical exercise and delicious healthy cooking.

Kids in the Kitchen is continuing its work with Blue Print Media to
produce a children’s healthy eating programme featuring Irish families.
Tesco have been approached as potential sponsors for the programme.

Victoria has approached all 42 clusters of School Completion Programmes
in Dublin and Greater Dublin for the academic year starting Sept 2010.
These are all state funded social programmes aimed at children in RAPID

Victoria is continuing her Whip It Up evening classes in chq, ifsc,
Dublin 1 which are proving very successful as she takes on educating
the after work masses in home cooking.

KITK will hopefully be working alongside Dublin City Council in an
outreach programme this summer aimed at getting children living in the
inner city cooking for themselves. These are due to start in July this

Ruairi McKiernan – SpunOut

McKiernan’s is gearing up for an ambitious new youth
citizenship programme that involves a young activists network, a youth
action summit, online campaign resources, and a mini-grants scheme for
young change makers.