The SPARK Social Enterprise Awards have proven to be highly popular culminating in very exciting and closely contested national finals. Regional winners from Higher Education Institutes across the country presented their imaginative, innovative and inspiring ideas. These included entries that sought to develop resources to aid memory recovery among older people, supporting people with Autism in employment, the development of a non-profit facility for the care of elderly LGBT clients, Aftercare services for young people, care and supports for young mothers, a smart ‘phone app geared towards encouraging people with learning disabilities to prepare and cook nutritional meals and an entry that identified creative ways in which older people living alone might address loneliness. The 2014 winners representing IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght respectively, Diane Ihirwe Couper and Rita Mirembe, are pictured above (centre) receiving their awards from Mr Seán Sherlock TD, Minister for Research and Innovation.
The 2015 competition also included students studying Accountancy, Business Studies and Early Childhood Care in Education who joined their Social Care Practice colleagues in competing for a share of the prize fund generously provided by our competition sponsors Certified Public Accountancy Ireland. The eventual 2015 winners from the Institute of Technology, Tralee (represented by Mary Shanahan, Geraldine O’Mahony and Elaine Brew) developed a social enterprise initiative to meet the employment and cultural needs of migrant women in direct provision centres by way of providing a culinary training academy and multi-ethnic café in Tralee. The runners-up, representing IT Sligo, unveiled a concept to develop an illustrated book together with a hand puppet encouraging children to express and communicate complex emotional issues they may be experiencing in their lives.
The SPARK Social Enterprise Awards 2017 will be held in September 2017 and the closing date for entries is 29th May, 2017.