Huge potential for local communities in social enterprise

Front from left: Bridie Lawlor, St Mullins, Cornelia McCarthy, Borris, Mary Fogarty, Loughmore. Back, from left: Senan Cooke, Dunhill, MC, Cillian Murphy, Kilkee, Co Clare and Kathy Purcell, Castlecomer.

Front from left: Bridie Lawlor, St Mullins, Cornelia McCarthy, Borris, Mary Fogarty, Loughmore. Back, from left: Senan Cooke, Dunhill, MC, Cillian Murphy, Kilkee, Co Clare and Kathy Purcell, Castlecomer.

A SEMINAR in Dunhill has heard of the huge potential for local communities which engage in social enterprise opportunities.
The seminar in Dunhill Enterprise Centre took place last Thursday June 8th and was held as part of the Copper Coast Festival which saw a wide variety of events take place throughout the surrounding area.
Dunhill has set a high standard for what local communities can achieve through social enterprise, and has pioneered the Communities Creating Jobs (CCJ) initiative.
To address issues of high unemployment and involuntary emigration, which were seen as weakening the solidarity and social cohesion of clubs and communities, Dunhill Rural Enterprises Ltd (DREL) and Carbery Enterprise Group, Skibbereen founded CCJ in 2011.
CCJ’s objective is to target the creation of 10 jobs in every community countrywide by 2020.
Last Thursday’s seminar heard from a number of different speakers who shared their experiences of developing social enterprises which have transformed their local communities.
These speakers were: Cornelia McCarthy, Borris, and Bridie Lawlor, St Mullins, County Carlow who presented on the Blackstairs/ Barrow Tourism and St Mullins; Cillian Murphy from Kilkee, County Clare who presented on Loop Head Tourism; Kathy Purcell who presented on Castlecomer Discovery Park, County Kilkenny; and Mary Fogarty, Loughmore-Castleiney, County Tipperary who presented on ‘The Cottage Tea Rooms and Shop’.
The four communities involved have provided new employment opportunities including full time and seasonal workers.
All the speakers highlighted the voluntary effort and the ownership of the developments by the communities as being key success factors.
“Everything stemmed from within the community in deciding to improve and regenerate through self- help initiatives and a strong self- reliant culture,” said Senan Cooke of Dunhill Rural Enterprises Ltd.
“It was the people in each community that took the steps to change from being isolated and neglected to being engaged and transformed socially, culturally and economically. Once they had started, everything began to fall in their favour and others joined with them inspired and motivated by the opportunities that opened up for them.”
He added: “Each of the four communities are, as a result, looking forward to developing new 5 and 10 year plans and are setting highly ambitious targets for themselves. The success that they have had has grown capacity and confidence and they are now ready for even more challenging developments. They all have received supports from state agencies which was essential in helping them to get off the ground and sustain them into the future.”
Many representatives from different communities in Waterford were present at the seminar and a question and answer session allowed those in attendance to learn more about each case study.
“A special word of thanks to Liz Riches and Waterford Area Partnership for supporting the event. Their contribution to its success is gratefully acknowledged,” said Senan Cooke.

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