Spraoi agus Spórt Family Centre Ltd
October 30, 2018
Outline the vision and mission of the Social Enterprise
In 2010, friends Helen Nolan, Ailbhe Hickey, Louise Grant, Helen Doherty and Kathleen Gallagher were young mums in Donegal who were desperately in need of a social outlet, as were many of their friends.
“We’d meet up and complain about how little there was for mothers and babies to do here in Inishowen.”
Eight years later, thanks to the proactive spirit of these young mums and many others along the way, we no longer have cause for compliant. “Now we don’t know when things are going to stop.” “It’s great.”
We used to dream of a family hub and in June 2010, we decided to make that dream a reality. Taking over the lease of a local retail unit, they set up Spraoi agus Spórt, which now offers fully-inclusive activities, classes and holiday camps for the whole community.
“We’ve expanded as our children and user base have grown.” “At first, it was geared to babies, then toddlers and then older children. After a while, we realised there was a demand for activities for adults too. We now have big plans for a dedicated space for teenagers.”
Set up initially as a Parent and Toddler Group to address the lack of activities for young families, Spraoi agus Spórt has evolved into a vibrant family hub which improves the quality of life for families. It does so by delivering social, educational and recreational opportunities for families, children and young people of all abilities and adults that is inclusive, affordable, and accessible and is aligned to the needs of local people.
Our mission is: to ensure all individuals regardless of ability can take part in recreational activities in their community.
Our vision is: that those most in need have a brighter healthier future.
How has the Social Enterprise developed and tackled issues?
Spraoi agus Spórt was set up during the recession when access to Government funding was limited. We knew that to achieve our social mission we would need to engage in trading activity.
We currently rent five commercial units in Carndonagh which would otherwise be vacant. This, together with the many quality jobs we have created – 5 WTE posts, 70 freelance facilitators and 10 Special Needs Assistants, are positively contributing to rural regeneration in Carndonagh, Co Donegal.
Over the years we have grown from a user base of 10 families and 20 children to having 1,850 families on our database.
We are an award-winning organisation. Everyone involved in Spraoi agus Spórt is passionate about what we do and love doing it - that is what makes us special and ensures that we can deal with our ongoing challenge of ensuring we meet the demand for services from within our community.
- 2018 County winner National Lottery Good Causes Award
- 2016 Families First Awards Best Charity Supporting Families
- 2015 Donegal Volunteer of the Year Chairperson Helen Nolan
- 2015 Donegal Volunteer of the Year “Time for Us” Project
- 2014 Better Together Awards People’s Choice Award
- 2014 Coca Cola Thank You Fund
- 2013 International Charity Bazaar
- 2012 Coca Cola Thank You Fund
- 2012 Pride of Place Awards
- 2011 Families First Awards Best Activity Provider for Toddlers
We are also so proud of our Time for Us project which provides fully inclusive activities for children with a disability. This is done by offering accessible social and recreational activities. These children can socialise with their peers and feel connected to their community. More than 1,300 hours of special needs support is provided annually since 2013 to over 50 children with a disability.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
We are impacting postively in our local community:
• A recent feedback survey prompted 764 response which fed into our strategic plan https://spraoiagussport.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/S3SpraoiagusSportplan.pdf
• Reduced social isolation for young families, adults and older people – 500 people attend weekly.
• Children and teenagers with a disability have access to fully inclusive activities which helps them feel more connected within their communities. We provide 1,300 hours of SNA assistance annually.
• A number of Syrian families have come to Carndonagh and are using our services to meet local families, we are helping with the process of integration within a new community.
• Improved mental health for mothers with young children as parent and toddler groups offer a chance to meet and talk to other parents in the same situation.
• A new service we provided this year was maths and English tuition to children who were struggling academically. This has succeeded in raising the confidence levels of 30 children educationally and in turn socially.
• Organising and delivering 59 different services aimed at the whole community in one of the most disadvantaged areas in Ireland demonstrates our commitment to social inclusion and ensures that everyone has access to affordable and inclusive social and recreational activities locally.
What our families say
• Spraoi has changed my life.
• Really nice atmosphere and lots of great peer support. Wonderful to have this available to us.
• Amazing service and it’s so much fun for me and the kids. The breastfeeding group was a life saver.
• My son has autism. Spraoi is a lifeline for us - not only does it provide much needed respite over the school holidays, it also offers something that is not available to us otherwise in our local community......inclusion
What makes this Social Enterprise unique?
Spraoi agus Spórt is a dynamic and progressive social enterprise, which is playing a key role within Carndonagh and the wider Inishowen area in terms of combatting social isolation through the provision of services designed to include the whole community.
We have created sustainable employment and promote sustainable social and economic development.
Our growing team has been busy making change happen because we believe in investing in our community. Our focus is always on connecting families into their community and offering affordable and accessible activities that are in line with the identified needs of local families.
We have been providing fully inclusive, social, recreational and educational services for families and children for over 8 years. We are a community of parents and families that initially came together to tackle one single issue, and who are now responding to a multitude of other issues.
We understand the needs of families and can put the supports in place to help. We have a vision for this place that involves connecting people in, creating a really great place to live for all ages.
We are a growing family hub with all year-round timetable of activities for all ages - from birth onwards. We have also become a ‘connection’ within this community helping to tackle isolation and loneliness for all family members.
It was originally about people coming together within a family hub. A place where families are coming together daily for a wide range of available activities and services. It continues to be about an adapting organisation within a community that is meeting the needs of families, creating employment and drawing on volunteer/leadership skillsets.
We are growing the social capital of the place we call home. We are one of a kind!
Please describe how your Social Enterprise engages in trading activity in a way to achieve your social mission
We knew from the outset that traded income was going to be the key to our survival. We knew we would need to engage in trading activity to achieve our social mission of providing services through a family hub setting.
Initially we rented one premises and provided 3 workshops weekly to about 20 families. Very quickly we realised that there was a real need and demand for more social and recreational opportunities for young families, and so began our exciting journey to try and fill that gap.
Last year over 50% of our income was from traded income, and we expect this to continue to increase. We charge a fee to attend our classes and any surplus is reinvested in our services.
Our workshops include daily parent and toddler groups, breastfeeding support, , afterschool childcare during term-time and school holidays, school of music, Maths and English tuition, classes through the Irish language, creative arts classes, yoga, exercise and health initiatives, science and technology workshops, birthday parties and holiday camps.
During the Halloween holidays over 1,000 people will experience spooky fun at one of our workshops. https://spraoiagussport.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/spraoiagussport-halloweenflyer.pdf
Our services are provided to individuals in an area where the people living face a myriad of socio-economic challenges that evidence the need for the services provided by our social enterprise.
We promote sustainable social and economic development and have made huge improvements in the level of services available to our community. We are continually striving to deliver more in terms of social innovation and our plans for a Creative & Digital Hub and Youth Space for teenagers, will encourage sharing of learning and expertise and lead to additional services and sustainable employment in this area.
How can the public support the Social Enterprise?
Spraoi agus Spórt aims to engage public support in as many ways as possible. Public support has been paramount to our success to date and we encourage people to get involved in many ways. Our office door is always open for anyone wishing to donate their time and expertise.
People are linked in as directors, volunteer team members, employed staff team members, participants, teachers, tutors, and suppliers.
• In our consultations
• Complete our surveys
• Give us your suggestions and feedback
• Facilitate a workshop
• Complete a grant form
• Provide Corporate Sponsorship
• At any of our workshops
• In our Charity Shop Fadó
• For the GAISCE Awards
• For the John Paul II Awards
• TY work experience
• College placements
• Support our annual 5k run
• Bake a cake for our Easter Saturday Coffee Morning
• Donate clothes, shoes etc to our charity shop Fadó
• Donate online
• Organise a fund-raiser on our behalf
• Attend our workshops and events
• Share our story
• Follow us on Social Media and help us raise out profile
• Leave a review on our Facebook page
• Word of Mouth – Tell people about us
Every year for the last five years over 20 local businesses sponsor a logo on our Couch to 5k t-shirt. These t-shirts help to raise our profile as they are worn regularly by people out running and walking.
Our next project is to develop a dedicated space for teenagers with a programme of activities aligned to the needs of teenagers with a disability together with a “changing places” toilet facility. We will be seeking support from the community for this and we know that they will deliver this support for us.
How is the Social Enterprise transparent and accountable?
Spraoi agus Spórt is a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Registered Charity aligned with the Charities Regulatory Authority.
A voluntary Board of 9 Directors who meet monthly and who have extensive experience and expertise across a wide number of fields ensure our social enterprise is governed in a professional capacity.
The board has considerable skills and expertise across the fields of finance, education, disability, early years, family support, culinary, human resources and psychology. These skills are clearly aligned to, and support the core services provided by the organisation.
Information about Spraoi agus Spórt including our programme of activities can be found on our website www.spraoiagussport.ie or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/spraoiagussport
We are members of The Wheel and the Donegal PPN.
Our annual accounts are published annually on our website https://spraoiagussport.ie/governence/
The accounts are prepared in accordance with the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP). We lodge all our reports with the Companies Registration Office. We comply with the Governance Code and the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising as well as GDPR requirements.
Spraoi agus Spórt maintains robust policies and procedures in relation to cash handling, invoicing and financial accounting and strive to ensure a high level of transparency across everything we do to ensure our members, the public and our stakeholders, have maximum confidence in everything that we do.