GIY, like Speedpak Group, is a social enterprise. Its mission is to support people around the world to live happier, healthier and more sustainable lives by growing some of their own food.
The campaign was aimed at encouraging people to enjoy the benefits of growing vegetables at home and to then share their experience with ten other people.
Each growing pack included 5 different packets of seed, 10 tags and one brochure. Fulfilment of the Grow It Forward packs involved breaking bulk quantities of seed packs, tags, envelopes and brochures into smaller batches. Components were manually sorted, collated, bundled and banded.
Envelopes were addressed, packed by hand, sealed and dispatched to An Post for delivery to libraries, businesses and individual subscribers all over Ireland.
Speedpak Group was very happy to have this opportunity to work with another social enterprise.
Part of DCU’s resource hub for social innovation and social entrepreneurship education, this project aims to “support educators in embedding social impact in their teaching, irrespective of discipline. In doing so, they can foster in their students the behaviour, skills, thinking and attitude in devising, testing and launching sustainable innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges.”
From the very early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, Speedpak Contract Services has been supporting the national supply chain of personal protective equipment [PPE] alongside disposable food packaging. Mandatory social distancing measures, which meant an obligatory reduction in staff numbers, coupled with high nationwide demand, have ensured that Speedpak has remained extremely busy.
Shamrock Rosettes, on the other hand, faced an uncertain future, following the cancellation of virtually all summer agricultural and equestrian shows Europe-wide. Redeployment of staff members to the contract packing division provided a temporary solution but it was abundantly clear that a more sustainable and innovative response was needed if we were to continue to utilise all of our resources, not least our workers and their particular skill sets.
The manufacture and supply of re-usable face coverings represented an obvious alternative business to explore. A clothing vendor contact, with a surplus supply of inexpensive cotton fabric that could be repurposed, provided an opportunity to collaborate on a new venture.
We tested a number of face covering designs before arriving at a product that was compatible with our in-house manufacturing capabilities including design, print management, packing and logistics and that would meet with the needs of our customers. Meanwhile, the screen-printing capability of our fabric supplier allowed us to pitch a value-added point of differentiation from most other mask manufacturers, by offering our customers branded face coverings.
Shamrock Rosettes can now supply bulk orders of multi-pack, branded, double barrier, 100% cotton face masks with built-in filter pockets. They are washable, reusable and, we are delighted to say, repurposed.
Our first orders have already been shipped to our new customers and, with more in production, we are actively engaging with them to identify potential additional requirements that may be requested or improvements that can be made, in order to ensure the ongoing success of this new venture.
Given the worldwide social, cultural and economic impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, our experience from a Social Enterprise perspective has demonstrated once again how collaboration can be a catalyst for success. It has highlighted the constant need for a business such as ours, to remain focused, flexible and entrepreneurial, not only in the pursuit of commercial success but also in the continued achievement of a social dividend. In our case, that flexibility and focus enabled us to continue supporting a local community with employment opportunities. Further, it is our hope that as the economy opens up and we continue to learn more about – and improve upon – social distancing work practices, our entrepreneurial spirit will allow us to expand our new customer base and thereby increase our staffing levels.
Speedpak Group is proud to be a member of the new social enterprise representative body SERI which was launched on 10th July 2020.
SERI is working to increase awareness and understanding of social enterprise and to demonstrate the value to Ireland’s economy and society of the sector by forging connections, facilitating networks within and outside the sector, working with local and national government to implement policy, engaging with E.U., OECD, SE World Forum and other relevant international bodies while developing partnerships with the private sector and working collaboratively with all support organisations.
It is with great sadness that we heard the news this morning [16th December 2019] that our colleague and friend Joe Reynolds died.
Joe started working in Speedpak Group on a training programme under Community Employment in 2007 and then joined our core staff as a Senior Operative in September 2010.
He was subsequently promoted to Team Leader with key responsibilities in the Speedpak Contract Services operation and mentoring new training staff.
Joe enjoyed his job. He loved the responsibility, being busy and meeting deadlines. Joe was fastidious and demanded very high standards. He went above and beyond what was required, driven by his conscientiousness and real regard for customer service. This also had an impact on the quality of the work experience and training that Speedpak Group was able to provide.
Joe was one of the first people training staff would meet because he was responsible for ensuring people’s health and safety on the floor, which he took very seriously. No one got to use any machinery or equipment without reaching Joe’s very high Q Mark standard!
Joe himself had a very positive attitude to lifelong learning and during the course of his career with us he undertook training in Supervisory Management, Forklift operation, Health & Safety, First Aid and IT.
Joe made a great contribution to this company both commercially and to the lives of the many people who took part in training and work experience. He celebrated the achievements of training staff moving on and getting jobs.
We will miss Joe greatly as a colleague and a friend.
Edited by Dr. Senan Cooke, the Communities Creating Jobs [CCJ] Winter Newsletter is a comprehensive report on social enterprise activity throughout Ireland in 2019 and is now available to download in PDF format.
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