North Belfast Social Enterprise HUB
The North Belfast Social Enterprise Hub, led by Ashton Community Trust, is a signature pilot project of OFMDFM through the Delivering Social Change Framework that seeks to tackle poverty and social exclusion. The North Belfast Social Enterprise Hub, based at 52 York Street, and other Hubs operating across the city are available to new or existing social enterprises with an idea for a new product or service.
Social enterprises are based on ideas that respond to a social or environmental need with a business solution. All potential social enterprises can avail of support including workshop, training, one to one mentoring support and much more. This pilot project is categorised as an ‘Action and Learning’ phase with four core objectives;
- Create 9 social enterprises within the Strategic Investment Fund areas
- Removal of community eyesores through targeting clusters of street level vacant or under-used units
- The encouragement of social enterprise business start-ups within local communities
- The provision of services for the purpose of facilitating social enterprises
To date we have over 160 clients registered at the North Belfast Social Enterprise Hub. Together they represent a mixture of social entrepreneurs and community organisations new and existing. There are a number of clients test trading or trading their social enterprise ideas. All clients are kept up to date with current funding available, opportunities that arise specifically for social enterprises, regular webinars, and provided with factsheets on various topics, grant tracker updates and any other relevant information.
- North Belfast Social Enterprise Hub Services: All support and services offered at the Hub are free and include:
Hot-desking: Facilities available during opening hours were client can book a desk which is accompanied with telephone, computer and printing facilities
- Grant Tracker: Grant Tracker is Northern Ireland’s funding tool kit to assist in finding relevant funding for your project; it keeps on top of all available funding, deadlines and manages your application.
- Mentoring: All clients are matched to a mentor that has the expertise to assist with funding applications, write business plans, source and assist in writing tenders, strategic development etc.
Training Workshops: There is no set calendar of training workshops as they are arranged based on need. To date we have ran workshops on topics such as governance, legal status, human resources, basis finances, marketing, leadership and strategic planning.
Newtownabbey Mental Health (Formerly – Mental Health Matters) – Best Practice Visit
“We would like to thank yourselves for the invite to the best practice visit at Bridge of Hope, it was brilliant to get to see how therapy rooms are set up. We were very impressed on how it was set up and also by how many clients they have supported and helped over the years. We would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone the best and keep up the great work! We highly recommend your services.” – Ken Boyle (Vice-chair).
The HUBB Community Resource Centre – Peer to Peer Learning
Colleen Crothers from The HUBB Community Resource Centre availed of Peer to Peer learning support. She was matched with Fionnuala Black, Manager of Kinderkids Day Care on the Cliftonville Road. The HUBB Community Resource Centre is in the process of setting up an Afterschools Social Enterprise and the learning received from Kinderkids was invaluable said Colleen. Colleen added: “Visiting Kinderkids gave me a better insight to how the day to day operations of an Afterschools really works, managing staff, taking care of children, pick- ups, policies, procedures, I didn’t realise that there was so much involved and this has given us a lot to think about. It is an exciting time for us but there is a lot of work ahead in getting the Afterschools set up and I didn’t realise how complex it can be. I want to thank Fionnuala for all her help and she has agreed further dates of learning which I hope to do in the foreseeable future.”
Crafted Hands – Training and Fab Lab Visit
Finance training was delivered to Crafted Hands in order to assist with running their craft business and tuck shop. Nicola (Facilitator to Service Users) had mentioned that there was confusion in keeping the tuck shop and Crafted Hands stock separate in sales. Due to this, the group received training and advice on how to manage this and record it on an excel spreadsheet. There has been further training sessions arranged to help with the growth of the business. As well as this, a visit to Fab Lab was arranged in order to design and produce marketing materials. Fab Lab was then able to create stamps in order to ease and quicken the process of producing the handmade crafts. As well as the stamps, T-shirts and canvas shopping bags were also designed and produced for the group. Nicola stated “The training given to the group was extremely helpful and we really appreciate your guidance and support. The service users really enjoyed the training and are so happy with all the help we are receiving from the Hub and look forward to receiving more training. We couldn’t be happier with the work Fab Lab has done for us as well and can’t wait to get the t-shirts and be able to sell on the canvas shoppers to promote the business.”