The Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock was in Longford recently to announce the winners of the EDI Seed Capital Award, a Social Enterprise Longford initiative organised by Clann Credo and Longford Community Resources Ltd.
“Longford may be small in size and population, but in the success of this project it has shown the way for development of social enterprise, creation of jobs and encouraging community initiative and awareness throughout the country,” said Paul O’Sullivan, CEO of Clann Credo.
Adrian Greene of LCRL added: “We hope to provide on-going assistance and encouragement in the overall culture of social enterprise in Co Longford and wish every success to the enterprises established through the Social Enterprise Longford project.”
All eight projects completed a 12-month business planning and mentoring programme, and are now in the process of launching specific new enterprises and services in the local community.
The successful projects emerged following a series of information meetings held last year in Longford town, Granard and Lanesboro, which were atteneded by almost 50 people.
“We were highly impressed by the level of dedication and commitment by the eight projects concerned,” said Pat Kelleher of the Longford EDI Centre. “All that was required was support and mentoring to enable them to develop their ideas further. At a time when so many businesses are closing or struggling to survive, and people young and old are being forced into unemployment and emigration, we have shown that jobs and services can be created.”
Revamp 3R were declared the overall winners, receiving €2,000 of seed capital funding for their new white goods project. Details of all eight finalists can be found below:
Revamp 3R Furniture Store (1st Place)
Where others saw only waste, the Revamp 3R Furniture Store saw enterprise and opportunity. In its four short years of existence, the project has saved over 100,000 kilos of used furniture from the local dump. The furniture recovered is usually of high quality and in need of simple repair and refurbishment. Their core philosophy is simple: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
The enterprise is embedded in the local community, creating up to 15 jobs and producing quality, affordable furniture for the local market. This support is illustrated by the thousands of pieces of furniture delivered to their premises, rather than the local landfill.
Revamp has worked closely with a supportive local business community – including the local waste operator – and even brought multinational giant IKEA on board. The company operates a ‘take back’ returns policy which they use to assist Revamp and similar initiatives nationally.
Having conquered the furniture market, Revamp has turned its attention to the white goods sector in Longford and its environs.
(Joint 2nd Place)
It is the small things that matter, especially for older members of the community. It’s the grass that goes uncut or the hedge that’s left untrimmed. It’s the washing that can’t be hung, let alone ironed, and the shopping left undone because of bad weather.
These are trivial matters for most, but often a source of great anxiety for elderly people, especially when their families are grown or departed.
As a result, the daily struggle with basic household tasks damages their quality of life. But in an age of straitened budgets the issue is not deemed severe enough to warrant a public sector response. But a solution may have been found in the form of Keeping House, which hopes to expand the range of services on offer by building up a database of reputable trades people to carry out basic home maintenance for older members of the community. Ultimately, the aim is to free people from unnecessary worry and stress, enhance their quality of life and ensure they stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
Lus na Gréine
(Joint 2nd Place)
While the Pop-Up Shop concept has been utilised by retailers for over a decade, in the current recessionary climate it seems like an idea whose time has come.
The people who run Lus na Gréine Family Resource Centre in Granard certainly think so. For them, the Pop-Up Shop offers an opportunity to raise income in a cost-effective manner, income that will help fund the wide range of family support services provided by the centre.
Their plan is for a Community Pop-Up Shop that will trade in new and used clothing, locally-produced crafts and general bric-a-brac. Essentially a temporary and very mobile retail outlet, the Pop-Up Shop can be established virtually anywhere, usually when a particular supply of goods become available. It can be closed and folded when sufficient sales have been achieved.
(Joint 4th Place)
In an age of scarcity, there is something rather incongruous about under-utilised resources. Equally, where there is a thriving social enterprise sector it is unlikely that any resource will stay that way for too long.
And it is this very capacity for adaptation and innovation that is key to the on-going success of the sector. When Camlin Catering laid their collective eyes on the state-of-the-art kitchen facilities in the Longford EDI Centre, they saw immediately that this was an opportunity waiting to be grasped.
The kitchens at the EDI Centre are equipped to a commercial standard and for Camlin that meant potential that was not being fully exploited - for the benefit of the wider community. Camlin Catering brings a strong social vision to its work, and incorporates critical training and educational components in all that it does. The idea is to grow the business in a timely, ordered manner over a number of years, with each stage of development based on good research and a clear understanding of the conditions in each market. For example, research among local primary schools uncovered strong interest in cost efficient and high quality meals for schoolchildren.
Longford Centre for
(Joint 4th Place)
An illness or disability can result in enforced dependency on others, compromising people’s independence and freedom of movement. The physical scars may be obvious, the emotional less so.
Longford Centre for Independent Living (LCIL) has a unique insight into the issue, having been established on the direct initiative of the disabled community in the area.
Almost 15 years after it was established, LCIL has an extensive network of some 36 Personal Assistants across the county, working to ensure that people regain some element of control over their personal lives and have the freedom to make basic, everyday choices.
Ardagh Heritage and
(joint 4th Place)
Ardagh is celebrated in literature and features in Oliver Goldsmith’s classic, ‘She Stoops to Conquer’. In recent years, Ardagh’s physical charms have won many plaudits, including three national Tidy Towns titles and the Prix d’Honneur in the prestigious Entente Florale.
In 2011, Annette Corkery and Ann Gerety-Smyth applied to Longford County Council to take over the old heritage centre building and transform it into a vibrant, community-based resource centre that would bring Ardagh’s rich tale to a whole range of new audiences.
The centre duly opened in August 2011 as an art-based exploration of the town’s rich past. The thriving centre is now an artistic and cultural hub for the local community, catering for all ages and tastes, with a wide variety of facilities and services on offer, from school programmes to family events, exhibitions and crafts.
(joint 4th Place)
The figures are shocking: more than one in four males in Granard cannot find work, while the figure for females is only slightly lower.
With good news in short supply, it has fallen to the people of Granard to make their own news, a challenge readily taken up by groups such as Granard Motte Community Enterprise (GMCE).
GMCE consists of two modern commercial units on some 15 acres of land, which the group believes is the ideal location as a new social enterprise hub for the town.
The enterprises will aim to harness the town’s abundance of historical wealth and cultural treasures to the task of local development and growth.
Enterprise (8th Place)
When an audit identified deficits in community health care provision, the response of those behind the Drumlish Health Pavilion amounted to no less than an overhaul of existing care services in Longford and its environs.
Drumlish Health Pavilion envisaged a comprehensive 10 year strategy that could reshape services for those at risk, enhance quality of life across the community and help create jobs.
The initial plan included the establishment of a Men’s Shed - an Australian idea that uses skill and craft training to combat exclusion and mental health problems among unemployed males - along with Sheltered Housing for the elderly and a 40-bed day care centre.