Social Enterprise NI hosted the annual Social Enterprise business awards at the Hilton Hotel Belfast on Thursday 23rd October, with Vineyard Compassion, winning the ‘One to Watch’ category for new Social Enterprises operating less than 2 years.
Vineyard Compassion has initiated a number of growing, profitable Social Enterprises including Vineyard Market, Compassion Housing and Compassion Catering. Vineyard Market is currently Ireland’s largest monthly indoor & outdoor combined Car Boot Sale, Farmers Market & Craft Fair. The 10 acre site provides 205 indoor pitches within 2 large warehouses and the Vineyard church facility, 100+ outdoor pitches on a concrete site, free onsite car parking for 3,500+ visitors, and is located near the main arterial routes of the town. It has attracted traders from all over N. Ireland and even the Republic of Ireland and has brought many visitors into the area, helping boost the local economy.
Vineyard Compassion is a Coleraine based charity that tackles poverty by providing people with practical and emotional support at their point of need while empowering them to tackle the underlying root causes. This takes place through a range of 20 projects including Causeway Foodbank, Wear House clothing bank, CAP Debt Counselling, Recovery Support group, CAP Money Management courses etc. The Social Enterprises provide sustainable income for the charity with all profits going directly to meeting needs in the local community. The social enterprises also contribute to the charities social mission by provided skills training / supported volunteering options for their clients.
Speaking at the event, Andrew McCormick, Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment Permanent Secretary said: “With social enterprise playing an increasingly significant role in our economy, it is important that the efforts of the sector are rightfully acknowledged and rewarded. Each of this year’s awards nominations reflect the exceptional work currently taking place in a wide range of social enterprises and which is having a real impact in communities throughout Northern Ireland.”
Director of Social Enterprise NI Juliet Cornford added: “Social Enterprises are a growth area in terms of the business world. Increasingly we are asked to look at the social value a business creates; Social Enterprises by their very design do this as part of their DNA. Ulster Bank’s Colin Jess said: “This year’s judging unearthed submissions of the highest quality across all categories. As judges, we had an extremely difficult task as all of entrants work extremely hard to create real social change”.
Over 120 attended the awards event which brought together Social Enterprises from across Northern Ireland to celebrate the success of their business and the social impact these organisations generate.