Rethink Ireland are delighted to support social enterprises across Ireland through the Social Enterprise Start-up Fund and the Social Enterprise Development Fund, which is in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.
At Rethink Ireland we believe that social enterprises are at the heart of addressing Ireland’s greatest social challenges and strengthening communities. We believe they are playing a vital role as we recover from the pandemic.
Social enterprises employ people who would typically be considered far from the labour market, produce ethical and sustainable products and/or provide vital local services at more affordable rates than the private sector. They can and will contribute to a just economic, social and sustainable recovery.
See a number of incredible organisations below that you can support this Christmas.
Cairde Enterprises makes hand crafted bespoke furniture and wood products, while offering meaningful jobs to those who have come in contact with the criminal justice system who are turning their lives around, but who often find it difficult to secure employment.
You can purchase some of their beautiful wood products, including a Christmas range, directly online. Larger items, such as benches and raised beds as seen on their website, can be discussed and ordered on the phone.
Connections Arts Centre provides accessible online and in-person Arts & Lifestyle programs where the wider Disability Community can learn, grow, and connect through the Arts. All programmes are designed and led based on the needs of the participants, and are hosted by experienced facilitators. Their mission is to support and connect the wider Disability Community through the arts and to empower members of the community to develop their skills and share their experiences with others. Their online Gallery and Gift shop champions and supports Artists with Disabilities. Connections also works collaboratively with individual organisations, designing bespoke programmes to suit their needs.
If you would like to get someone a present, check out their Gallery and Gift shop, as well as the individual course offerings on their website.
GIY addresses the challenge of diet-related illness arising from a lack of understanding and connection to healthy food. GROWBox makes growing healthy and delicious food easy, affordable and accessible, overcoming the barriers to food growing, unlike traditional horticulture products. GROWBox is a range of one-off and subscription growing kits from GIY, to make growing easy. A GROWBox is a complete, tailored kit with everything you need to grow your own food at home.
Based in Scariff in County Clare, Irish Seed Savers Association was set up to create a central store of rare, native and heritage vegetable seed and apple trees, where none previously existed. They research, gather, grow, and protect these collections on their organic farm and make them available for both home and community growing. You can buy their seeds and trees online or sign up to one of their workshops.
Sensational Kids provides affordable and accessible early intervention services for children with additional needs across the country. This is an organisation that has helped thousands of children through subsidised speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and play therapy.
They sell everything from jigsaws, to moonbeam lights, to space projectors and ice cream counters. You’ll pretend you’re buying something here for the small person in your life, but it will really be for you.
The Shona Project aims to educate, inspire and empower today’s Irish girls to become tomorrow’s strong, confident and curious young women. Through their school workshops, events and online community, The Shona Project provides girls with information, advice and a safe space to share their stories.
Their online shop offers some gift options, such as the Shona Handbook or jumpers, which are the perfect gift for any girl to celebrate their gender, while also supporting the Shona Project.
Spraoi agus Spórt addresses the support and recreational needs of families working and living in Carndonagh, Co. Donegal. They focus on connecting families with their community by offering affordable and accessible activities through a family hub. Learn more about how you can get involved with Spraoi agus Spórt’s activities by visiting their website.
Their online shop offers small, personalised gifts, e.g. for your children’s teachers, which can come in handy when you are looking for some new ideas of what to gift on a budget.
Shuttle Knit empowers female Travellers by challenging social exclusion and creating employment opportunities and promoting Traveller heritage through the design and creation of knitwear.
They sell a beautiful range of knitwear online including shawls, ponchos, hats and scarves. If you can’t choose between them you can also purchase a gift voucher.
Triest Press provides meaningful employment and training opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities. A unique social enterprise that facilitates greater access to employment for people vulnerable to social exclusion, Triest Press cultivates an atmosphere where happy employees understand their talents and approach life with confidence, wonder and a positive sense of self. They supply quality print products to a wide range of businesses, community organisations and personal customers in Roscommon and surrounds.
Digital print products range from memorial cards, wedding stationery, raffle tickets and promotional materials to bespoke items designed to meet customer requirements. Their Photo App is another great opportunity to create a personalised Christmas present. Visit their website for a full list of services.
You may have recently seen We Make Good, who support the growth and prosperity of people who have been through addiction or imprisonment, on The Late Late Show.
This is a social enterprise that’s making a real difference, helping to develop the hidden talents of people who have faced serious social challenges in their lives. By creating employment, We Make Good helps not only the makers themselves, but their families and communities, too.
The We Make Good collection features everything from masks, to candles, to key chains and cuddly kids toys. Their range also includes Soap with Soal, produced by CanDo, another Rethink Ireland Awardee. CanDo tackles the lack of practical training and employment opportunities available to adults with visual impairment and additional disabilities. They make a range of products using only high quality, 100% natural ingredients.
Also available via their website are the products of Textile Studios, another Awardee. The Textiles Studio addresses significant difficulties that refugee women or women with experience of the criminal justice system face in gaining employment. Through machine knitting and garment construction, the programme provides women with their first job, workplace training, and language & communication skills sufficient to secure mainstream employment or start their own business after two years.
There’s something for everyone and every single sale goes to developing the skills of people who are seeking a better life.
Refill Ireland is an organisation that examines the environmental impact of single use plastic bottles, and they want to see Ireland become a fully refillable country as soon as possible. The goal of the project is to provide widespread access to drinking water in public areas in Ireland, as well as providing a zero waste service for the likes of runs, fairs, sports days and more.
Check out Refill Ireland’s online store for a number of great stocking-filler options, from organic sports bottles (made from renewable sugar cane) to stainless steel refill bottles.
An Mheithal Rothar provides bicycles to those who do not have access to cycling, particularly those who are unable to participate in the Bike to Work program, while also creating an impact on the areas of employment and sustainability. Their one-of-a-kind approach combines recycling and waste reduction with delivering affordable bikes, as well as personalised information sharing and problem solutions for each user. You can purchase bicycles, accessories and parts directly from their website.
Saoirse – EHD create stylish products such as tote bags, face masks and Christmas cards, produced by female assylum seekers in Direct Provision together with other local migrants.
Cycle Up addresses the problem of textile waste by training marginalised unemployed women in repair and reuse of materials in a rural area. They produce fashion and home-ware items made from upcycled materials designed and made by the makers within the enterprise.
A beautifully curated selection of preloved and past-season children’s wear. Kindfolk’s goal is to provide much-needed funding for vulnerable children living in emergency accommodation and direct provision in Cork. Their aim is to raise funds for a range of activities including, music and art therapy, after-school clubs, sports and dance lessons, summer camps and birthday celebrations.
Dublin Food Co-op is a cooperative social enterprise, offering access to affordable and nutritious organic food. They have a beautiful shop in Kilmainham that you can browse in or use the click and collect or delivery options on their website.
Third Space addresses the issue of providing active, creative, social community hubs for residents and workers in parts of Dublin where redevelopment occurred without providing such spaces. They raise money from their coffee shop that is invested back into the community; they support employment programmes for people seeking to get into work, help local projects, contribute to exhibition space for artists, and fund a small loan scheme to food businesses in developing countries. Support Third Space by visiting their café based in Smithfield, Dublin.
Walkinstown Green Social Enterprises works with people who have been distanced from the labour market with a history of poor progression or a lifetime of minimum wage jobs. The project provides jobs through four different programmes, including their Community Garden Centre and Community Coffee Shop, which provide training, increased employment and experience options for people with disabilities. Visit their café at Walkinstown, Dublin this Christmas.
KASI has been providing support to new communities in the Killarney area since 2000. They work to overcome considerable employment barriers for vulnerable Migrants, especially women, by providing support for training, work placements and employment opportunities within their community. They also recognize the impacts of climate change on the local community as well as the communities of the people they support, so they are operating a zero-waste café and refill store which has minimal impact on the environment.
They operate a Going Green Café, where you can get a break from the busy Christmas season, as well as a Refill Store, offering you the perfect sustainable location to get some of your Christmas grocery shopping done.
Meals4Health provides fresh, delicious ready meals for older people in their own homes, giving them independence and dignity in choosing their own meals. The meals are created in accordance with best practice in clinical nutrition that addresses individual needs and supports older people with prevention and recovery from illness, the promotion of health and wellbeing, and by helping to reduce social isolation. Order your meal (or for your relatives) today via their website or learn more about how you can support them.
The Urban Co-Op works on improving community wellness. They provide wholesome food at affordable prices and are operated by the community, for the community, in Limerick. They provide a platform for social connection and the opportunity to enhance lives through access to nutritious food.
Sonairte is an environmental charity set up in 1988. Their vision is to be a community hub, enabling people to live more sustainably to address the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. Recently Sonairte set up an Open Food Network “Hub” , an alternative model which supports small producers, local food and chains, reduced carbon footprint, reduced “food miles”, and local food sovereignty. This project will support them to grow this enterprise.
If you are based within Sonairte’s reach, their Hub offers you the perfect opportunity to add some regional, sustainable products to your Christmas, as well as an annual supporter membership, which gives you free access to their gardens and trail.
Based in Greystones, Rise at the Cove provides employment and supports for people in the final stages of their addiction recovery programme while serving award-winning coffee at the sea.
Deaf Enterprises are the only dedicated employer of the deaf and hard of hearing community in Ireland. They provide a high-quality re-upholstery and French Polishing service to the people of Cork city, county and beyond. Their fully trained and qualified personnel restore all antique furniture as well as 3-piece suites, armchairs, and queen-Anne chairs to the highest standard. They also re-cover mobile homes, caravan cushions and boat cushions. Visit their workshop or get in touch to see their latest available products.
EPIC (Enhancing Progress Inspiring Change) is a social business project in Wexford that provides employment for people who want to reclaim their lives after problems with addiction and/or past criminality. The business produces printed promotional materials such as t-shirts, mugs, folders, pens and conference materials, with any profits reinvested into the social enterprise.
Kilcannon Industries CLG addresses the lack of training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Kilcannon Industries CLG is a voluntary organisation operating within the community sector. It provides services to over 200 service users with intellectual disabilities and employs a total of 250 staff, offering significant opportunities for employing people with disabilities in a social enterprise model. Kilcannon also has a Garden Centre located in Wexford. Visit their website to learn more.
ReCreate addresses the lack of knowledge and appreciation of the practical value and benefits of creativity and highlights the impact of our actions on the environment around us. ReCreate has had a direct impact on tens of thousands of people nationwide by giving them access to quality art material and nurturing their inner creativity, which results in improved outcomes for children across the social spectrum.
Visit ReCreate’s website to view their membership options and other options to learn from them.
REVAMP 3R STORE is a furniture recycling and reuse project operating in Longford. Established in 1998, through their training centre and furniture recycling project, they have been addressing the problems of unemployment, poverty, inequality and social exclusion through its own training premises, furniture showroom and transport for collecting furniture suitable for reuse. Their training courses provide training for long-term unemployed youth in carpentry, tiling and upholstery and additional soft skills.
If you know of someone who is passionate about reuse and the circular economy, Revamp 3R Store might be just the place for you. Their store offers beautiful upcycled furniture for every room of your home.
Longford Women’s Link (LWL) is a dynamic social enterprise which links women together to make their community safe and equal. Using its unique Integrated Service Delivery model, LWL identifies and addresses key inequalities that prevent women from achieving full social or economic potential. Established as a used furniture and clothing charity enterprise in 2016, LWL Willow Traders operates using a social enterprise model, incorporating the principles of enterprise, education and employment opportunities for the Longford community, underpinned by principles of environmental sustainability.
If you are looking for clothes or furniture for someone and are in Longford, why not pay them a visit and invest in a sustainable, empowering present?
Books at one is a collective of locally managed community bookshops. A social enterprise fostering a love of reading for learning, pleasure, and connection. They provide employment, work experience and value-added volunteering opportunities by working collaboratively with local businesses, schools, and voluntary organisations in areas of social disadvantage or rural isolation. Offering a wide range of accessible and diverse literature, they operate in the belief that there is a book for everyone regardless of economic, educational or social status. You can visit one of their book shops in Dublin, Mayo and Galway or buy direct from their website.
Carrickmacross Toy Library offer a unique and sustainable option for a Christmas gift. €3 a month yearly membership buys you unlimited rental of their growing toy library throughout the year.
Castlecomer Discovery Park is one of Ireland’s premier adventure parks, set on 80 acres of stunning woodland and lakes. It is home to Ireland’s longest zip-wire and a host of other activities from high ropes courses to archery and canoeing. It was set up to develop rural tourism, create jobs, and regenerate the town of Castlecomer. Visit their website to learn more about how you can join in the fun and get involved.
Common Knowledge empowers people with the skills and solutions needed to address some of our most basic needs for a sustainable life: affordable, sustainable housing and greater self-sufficiency at home. They do this through hands-on learning programmes, research and community initiatives focused on areas like building, growing and making. Their founding team has taught 200+ people through their ‘Build School’ since 2020, and in 2022 will expand their reach significantly.
If you know of someone who would like to learn how to build and create self-sufficient homes, check out their course offerings and maybe get a course as a present?
Green Sod Ireland is a land trust that protects land and its biodiversity.
They have three principal programmes:
1) Wild Acres, the protection and management of the biodiversity of 200 acres of gifted land in their care;
2) Ecological Education for children and adults in nine counties across Ireland;
3) Community Empowerment which builds communities around their wild acre sites.
Their Save a Sod Programme lets you invest in saving a piece of land and its biodiversity. It comes with a (fully sustainable) certificate, making it the perfect gift for those interested in nature, wildlife, taking action in response to the climate emergency and protecting Irish land and its biodiversity.
Save a sod: https://greensodireland.ie/saveasod/
Lough Ree Access For All CLG is a start-up small tourism not-for-profit business based on Lough Ree in Ballyleague-Lanesborough, county Roscommon. The company is an award-winning social enterprise and a registered charity which is serving people with disabilities with daily sight-seeing and angling trips on Lough Ree on board a specially designed vessel-licenced by the Department of Transport.
The boat can carry up to 10 paying passengers and you can purchase tickets on their website. So why not surprise someone with a fully accessible boat trip?
Sailing into Wellness helps people build their recovery and supports young people at risk by supporting healthy ways to look after their physical and mental wellbeing. It provides a natural environmental programme where sailing is used as an educational and therapeutic activity. To participate in one of their sailing programmes, please visit their website.
Siel Bleu Ireland addresses the growing epidemic of physical inactivity amongst older adults and people living with chronic disease. Siel Bleu Ireland offers older adults and people living with chronic disease and physical and intellectual disabilities the opportunity to counteract physical inactivity through specially designed, professional exercise programmes. Siel Bleu have been offering their group exercise programmes online in recent months. To try a sample class or to learn more visit their website.
The Ark is a dedicated cultural centre for children. They create opportunities for children, along with their families and friends or with their school, to discover and love art.
Through their work with leading Irish and international artists children can enjoy performances in their unique child-sized theatre, view engaging exhibitions or participate in creative workshops.