New campaign to drive greater social and economic change in Dublin

by Gazette Reporter
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Social Enterprise Dublin, a network of seven local development companies, along with a number of social entrepreneurs gathered last week at the Mendicity Institution in Dublin to officially launch the campaign ‘Get Social Dublin, Invest in your Community’.

The aim of the promotional campaign, funded by the Government under the Dormant Accounts Fund, is to call on the general public and the wider business community, to back social enterprises by buying a product or service, offering their time as a volunteer or investing in the enterprise to drive growth.

Since 2019, Social Enterprise Dublin have mentored and delivered financial support to over ninety social enterprises in the capital who have reported a combined turnover of €9.3 million providing employment to over 650 people in their local communities.

Una Lowry, spokesperson for Social Enterprise Dublin and CEO of Dublin South City Partnership explained the importance of building greater awareness for this vital sector: “Dublin has suffered from numerous social issues over the years from homelessness, drug dealing, litter blackspots to a lack of amenities for communities to socialise and express their creativity. 

“This campaign is all about highlighting the people behind these social enterprises who are addressing social issues head on and instigating real change. We hope to give people a better understanding of what social enterprise can achieve and how supporting these businesses can make a big difference to the lives of others,” she declared.

A social enterprise operates like any other business in that it produces goods and services for which the customer pays. The defining difference is that it reinvests all profits back into achieving its social objectives rather than to shareholders.

Dublin’s social enterprises reflect the diversity of the community and address current social issues around addiction/homelessness, sustainability, community, mental health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion.

They range from local coffee hubs and trucks like Mug Shot Café and Hard Ground Coffee that employ people who are experiencing homelessness or on probation to passionate sustainability experts like The Sustainable Life School and Pocket Forests who help communities to protect their environment and green spaces in urban centres through simple changes. There are authentic walking tours of Dublin with In Our Shoes Walking Tours led by guides that grew up in the heart of the city to skilled hairdressers that offer hair and beauty services to the migrant community through the Dignity Partnership. Also businesses like Connections Art Centre who are a creative haven for artists and people with disabilities and even resident beekeepers from Bee8 who will manage up to 100 beehives this year, producing honey and protecting the eco-system in Dublin 8!

One of the champions and pioneers of social enterprise in inner city Dublin is Bernie Walsh, who co-founded Sunflower Recycling almost 30 years ago to create employment in the city. Bernie explains how choosing the services of a social enterprise can positively impact the community: “When running a social enterprise, the social has to be given the same balance as the profits. Sunflower Recycling is known for promoting recycling as an option for job creation. We recyclepaper, cardboard, polystyrene, clear plastic, aluminium cans and plastic bottles in conjunction with Repak. There are, of course, bigger waste collection companies servicing the city, however, customers choose us as they know their choice is helping to provide jobs for over fifty long term unemployed people in the community.”

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