Justice Minister David Ford has said that social enterprises play a vital role in helping to provide opportunities for people who may feel marginalised and so help strengthen communities.
The Minister was speaking after visiting a Pop-Up Art project in Downpatrick, which is based in the South Eastern Social Enterprise Hub. The project works with a range of people, including ex-offenders and people dealing with mental illness or addiction issues.
David Ford said:
“For many reasons people can feel marginalised and not able to participate fully in their community. Social enterprises work closely with local communities and aim to increase employment levels by encouraging local start-ups. In many cases they are started by local people for the benefit of local people.
“The Pop-Up Art project is a very valuable project offering users the opportunity to learn skills refurbishing and upcycling used furniture. One to one support and counselling services are also available to users of the Hub to help them improve their lives.
“I appreciated the opportunity to meet some of those involved in the project and to hear about the benefits it provides.”
The South Eastern Social Enterprise Hub, which comprises Downpatrick and Lisburn premises, is one of eleven new Hubs established across the nine Social Investment Zones under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Delivering Social Change Framework. With £4million of funding from the Executive’s Delivering Social Change Fund, the initiative will tackle poverty, dereliction and unemployment by encouraging social enterprise business start-up within local communities.
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