Social entrepreneurs and business achievers, part 2

We had the pleasure of judging the pitches for the Social Enterpreneurs programme.

After an open call for applications in March of this year,  217 social entrepreneurs seeked support from the Awards Programme. As a member of our External Review Team, and following the completion of this year’s Social Entrepreneurs Bootcamp, we helped us to whittle that number down to 20. 8 for the Impact programme, 12 for the Elevator programme.

Here are the 12  projects that have made it through to the Evaluation Process for the Elevator programme. During the Evaluation Process SEI will spend a number of days with each applicant in an effort to gather more information concerning their project. From these we will then choose up to 6 social entrepreneurs for the elevator programme. If you are interested in helping them out, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Future Voices – Mairead Healy

Future Voices empowers marginalised young people in Ireland to eventually ensure more diverse legal and political systems.

Project description

Future Voices is an innovative way of working with disadvantaged teenagers who, through social division, may feel distanced from the world of law and politics. Their aim is to advance systemic change within the legal/political systems in Ireland, empowering those from the most deprived backgrounds to go on to third level education whilst involving the political and legal institutions in the change process.

The vision behind Future Voices is based on the 3Es: Engage, Empower and Enable. The 3Es drive focus on building skills, building confidence and building networks in order to build opportunity at each step of the programme.

It is an approach that is transformative and empowering, revolutionising the mindsets of the young people they work with. The emphasis is on equiping young people for life, not just for an academic degree programme.

 Green Plan – Neil McCabe

The Green Plan tackles climate change through behavioral change. It is an actionable plan that can be adopted by any community or organisation. The end desired result is national carbon neutrality.

Project description

The Green Plan's vision is to solve climate change through behavioural change. They do this through a clear, actionable methodology covering simple behaviour changes, refurbishment and innovation across 7 themes of sustainability.

In practice this means that measures such as changing lightbulbs to installing temperature sensors, to retired firemen maintaining the local fire station's garden. The result of all this is carbon neutrality and communal involvement in fostering a green society.

As I Am – Adam Harris is a service for and by the Autism community, supporting those affected. Through creating an online platform they plan to break down barriers, provide transparency and empower those with Autism.

Project description stands for Autism Spectrum Information, Advice and Meeting Point but it also sums up their mission – to create an Ireland where those with Autism can be who they are and be proud of who they are. They are working to make this a reality by empowering those with the condition to have a voice and reach their full potential and educating the general public about the challenges of the condition.

They do this by creating a strong online presence – a one-stop shop of easy to read, easy to understand information about the condition and providing a platform for the Autism community (those living with the condition, their families and professional supporters). They also set priorities – which can then work on both online and offline (through workshops, advocacy, public awareness campaigns and support initiatives).

Irish Charity Lab – Jean O’Brien

Irish Charity Lab is an innovation and knowledge-sharing lab dedicated to working with Irish charities on digital projects

Project description

Irish Charity Lab is a not for profit collective of digital experts, working to identify and tackle the barriers stopping charities from working effectively with digital projects. They encourage and support charities to build digital skills and innovation, increase knowledge-sharing and strategies for non-profits. They drive collaborative working between charities on digital projects.

The Irish Charity Lab will help charities to plan and deliver digital projects, with the agreement that a case study from each project will be shared for the benefit of the sector.  Workshops and training will be charged on a sliding scale, so that they are affordable to charities of all sizes.

Kater4Kidz – Mary Harte 

Kater4Kidz is about equipping children with practical nutritional and cookery knowledge, promoting a lifelong positive attitude to food.

Project description

The Kater4Kidz Cookery and Nutrition Primary School Programme promotes a positive attitude to nutrition and food by highlighting the benefits a healthy balanced diet has on the effective and efficient working of the body.  It is aimed at 8 to 13 year old children and is made up of three modules. The modules cover the brain, the bones and the immune system. Each module consists of two sixty minute sessions. Session one discusses the theory of how our bodies use food to support organs\systems at a cellular level. Session two is practical cookery, where each child works individually to cook recipes using foods that contain the nutrients that support the above named organs and systems. This programme is designed to teach children life skills that allow them to cook every day healthy food that is nutritious, cost effective, easy to prepare and does not take a lot of time.

SÓLÁS: A Sustainable Approach to Community Services – Joan Henderson

Sólás provides practical help to enable families of disabled children to cope and feel supported by offering a range of after school and weekend programmes.

Project description

Sólás provides practical support programmes for children and young people with additional needs and their families.

They adopt the Special Education Needs (SEN) register as a guide to develop appropriate services. This guide has enabled them to develop two core areas of work; educational support programmes and social development programmes. Their programmes include 'Back on Track' and 'Kids Den'. Back on Track recruits retired teachers who volunteer 3 hours per week to support five children with additional needs who attend primary school. Currently they operate this programme across 18 primary schools in NI. The programme has been running for 3 years and has grown from 3 schools participating to currently 18 schools. This year they have supported over 600 children.

Eden Alternative – Stephen Cassidy

The Eden Alternative transforms nursing homes from institutions into places where life is worth living.

Project description

The Eden Alternative is a non-profit organisation working to transform care environments for older people into more dignified human habitats that focus on quality of life for all involved. Using a low-cost training programme to move nursing home staff away from an institutional model of care, the Eden Alternative provides a person-centred framework for transforming these environments into communities where residents have an improved quality of life, and staff can recapture a meaningful work life.

Founded in the US in 1993, the model has been implemented across the world, resulting in massive improvements in morbidity rates, medication use, and well-being for elders, as well as reductions in staff turnover and expenditure for care providers. The Eden Alternative has currently been implemented in two nursing homes in Ireland, and Eden Alternative Ireland has been established to expand the national network.

My Home PE – Brenda Cassidy

My Home PE uses simple interactive technology to make physical activity part of primary school homework where children earn points for tasks completed.

Project description

My Home PE is an online tool designed for primary school aged kids and their parents/guardians to boost physical activity outside of school hours. It is run through primary schools but driven by the kids themselves who earn points for their school by completing physical activities. They then encourage their family members to engage also.

Their aim is to bridge the gap between the 60 minutes mandated PE time a week in primary schools and the 60 minutes per day of vigorous activity recommended by the World Health Organisation to keep our kid's healthy. The idea is to have  kids to 'unplug and play'. The plan is to find a simple and fun way to stem the epidemic of childhood obesity (25% of 2-15 year old's at present in Ireland) and embed fun exercsie into their psyche.

Active Connections – Raymond Burke 

Active Connections provides support to young people at risk and to their families. They use adventure-based activities to help young people grow, develop and challenge negative thinking and actions.

Project description

Active Connections are the South East's only specialist Adventure Therapy-based company. 'Adventure’ therapy is a field that is about 40 years old.  It grew out of the outdoor and wilderness adventure movement of the early 1960’s and has quickly evolved into a mode of practice that occurs outdoors, in remote natural settings and sometimes indoors. Adventure therapy involves the combination of physically and psychologically demanding activities, usually (but not always) conducted in a group setting. Adventure therapy is usually based on the principles of experiential education, but draws on traditions from counselling, psychology, social work, and education' ( They  also supply a family intervention project which helps to affect positive change to the families of the young people they work with.

Peace Builders – Fiona Rowland

Through open dialogue Peacebuilders help youth in conflict shape a better future for themselves and others.

Project description

One cannot order or 'require'  empathy, forgiveness or a true apology. Each of these are feelings which take time and awareness to develop, through understanding and dialogue. From this core belief the Peacebuilders programmes are developed.

Peacebuilders work with youth in conflict with the law or in communities, to address underlying causes for the behaviour that led to this and support better decision making so that they can move forward in their life in a positive way. Peacebuilders International is an award winning model of youth restorative justice established in Toronto in 2002. It runs the first RJ clinic in Toronto’s youth district court, as well as other programmes in partnership with schools, jails and community organisations.

Peacebuilders Ireland will link up with leading partner organisations in Ireland to pilot Peacebuilders Circles within their existing programmes and enhance the work that they do with young people.

My Life Solutions –Jennifer Ryan

My Life Solutions are equipping young people with skills for life. Their two-fold project focuses on workshops on empathy, assertivness and the impact of bullying.

Project description

My Life Solutions is a strategic educational and therapeutic model to address bullying and its consequences. The project is broken into 2 parts, the first part of MyLife Solutions is to engage with schools and workplaces, providing seminars and interactive workshops to learn about empathy, friendships and the impact of bullying on communities and individuals.

The second half is a therapeutic model, where they provide one day workshops for young people who are targeted by bullying. They develop self esteem skills and crucially they learn assertiveness skills to equip them for life.  This model is new to Ireland and is developed from the highly successful ZAP model in the UK, run by Kidscape. These are fun days, parents are included and crucially they reduce the need for CAMHS intervention, week on week counselling and reduce bullying victimisation by 85%.

Sticks and Stones – Patricia Kennedy

Sticks and Stones aims to empower children and young people to challenge the issue of bullying and live happier lives.

Project description

Sticks & Stones is an innovative, award-winning anti-bullying programme which uses a three-strand approach to help the whole school community acknowledge, challenge and prevent bullying: “Be The Solution” anti-bullying drama workshops for students, “Addressing Bullying” and training for teachers and school staff, and “Understanding Bullying” information evenings for parents, carers & guardians.

Working with children from 2nd class right through to 6th year the workshops have been developed to tackle all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying. Using a carefully designed, well-balanced combination of discussion, drama exercises, role-play and forum theatre, a facilitator works with students in a highly focused, sensitive and creative process to explore bullying as it relates to their day-to-day lives.

The Final 12 – Elevator:



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