The Future is Social: Press Release

The Future is Social: Press Release

Dublin’s fast-growing local social enterprise, Speedpak Group set to make a greater difference in Post-Covid-19 recovery

Rethink Ireland calls on public to #supportsocial 

40 Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardees providing vital services to over 266,000 people, supporting 500 people to obtain employment, and €22.2m turnover, according to report

Rethink Ireland CEO says social enterprises have the power to help reshape a fairer and more inclusive post-crisis Ireland

Social enterprises are businesses that work to improve people’s lives

Rethink Ireland is calling on the public to support their own local social enterprises by buying their products and using their services. This is part of an awareness campaign, ‘The Future is Social’ which will be rolled out over the coming months and aims to highlight the power of social enterprises to help strengthen communities nationwide, especially in the post-Covid-19 recovery.

Dublin-based social enterprise, Speedpak Group, which trades commercially to transform the lives of people who were previously long-term unemployed, is helping to raise awareness about social enterprises in Dublin. Speedpak Group are among 40 Awardees of the Social Enterprise Development Fund who, according to the ’Social Enterprise Development Fund report’ published today, together have provided vital services to over 266,000 people, supported 500 people to obtain employment (the majority of whom are from minority groups), generated €22.2m in turnover and mobilised almost 16,000 volunteers over the last three years.

Most communities around the country have several social enterprises which are businesses that work primarily to improve people’s lives and achieve a social, societal, or environmental impact. Social enterprises deliver a broad range of services in areas such as social housing, homecare, environmental services, health services, hospitality, catering and many more. Like other businesses, social enterprises trade in goods and services on an ongoing basis, the difference is they reinvest their profits into achieving their core social objectives. 

“Social enterprises are like the glue within a community. We’re bringing together the business community, the state, philanthropy and the wider community so that we can deliver innovative solutions and make a really big impact in people’s lives.”, says John Murphy CEO of Speedpak Group, which provides real work experience, accredited industry training and mentoring to people who are unemployed long-term. “I would encourage people to discover their own local social enterprises and see what they can offer”. 

“Social enterprise is at the heart of the inclusive economy we need to build in Ireland, creating sustainable jobs at the heart of local communities, while adding value and meeting local needs.”, says Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, “The published report proves that with funding and business supports social enterprises can grow and thrive. It is important that we support social enterprises to play the leadership role they are capable of in the Covid-19 recovery and green transition, so that it is a sustainable recovery that leaves no one behind.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphrey’s, TD, welcomes ‘The Future is Social’ campaign. “I am delighted to support Rethink Ireland’s campaign to raise awareness of social enterprise. One of the main objectives of the National Social Enterprise Policy is to build awareness of social enterprises as a dynamic and growing part of Irish social and economic life.”, says Minister Humphreys, “A new Awareness Strategy has been developed to highlight the critical role they play in responding to many of our current challenges, and to emphasise their potential to shape a more sustainable and inclusive future”.

George Jones, Chairman & Group Non-Executive Director of IPB Insurance, highlights the importance of support for social enterprises. “We are delighted to support Rethink Ireland and our Local Authority Members for the fourth year of the combined €3.2m Social Enterprise Development Fund.”, he says, “The impact achieved by the 40 awardees demonstrates the momentum for social enterprise at such a critical time for our society. This awareness campaign will further support Local Authority partnerships and Enterprise Offices to provide the right supports at the right time to social enterprises across all communities in Ireland.” 

‘The Future is Social’ campaign will be running over the next few months to help build awareness of the power of social enterprises and how they can help the post-Covid 19 social and economic recovery in a more inclusive way. People can get involved in the campaign by supporting social, buying social and even creating social enterprises themselves. ‘The Future is Social’ campaign will provide regional webinars, information and resources about social enterprises, what they can do, and how everyone can get involved. 

More information about social enterprises and ‘The Future is Social’ campaign can be found on Rethink Ireland’s website at 

Speedpak Group – Continuing to Trade, Train and Transform

Speedpak Group – Continuing to Trade, Train and Transform


We are fortunate throughout lockdown that our Speedpak Contract Services division continues to be part of the national supply chain for medical devices and catering disposables. For these contracts, we break down bulk consignments of medical masks and latex gloves for warehousing, pick and pack and distribution while disposable catering products are re-packed for distribution and sale in wholesalers. To operate safely we have maintained a core staffing while the our training staff have been temporarily furloughed. 

We have also redeployed staff from our Shamrock Rosette business. Supplying mainly to public events, Shamrock Rosettes saw its business significantly reduced. Happily, we are seeing some ‘green shoots’ as events are being advertised for the second half of this year.

The pandemic resulted in us developing closer ties with customers, as we knuckled down together to respond and innovate. In one instance, collaboration afforded the opportunity to research. This has lead to us now onboarding a new inventory and shipping platform to streamline a new added value e-commerce fulfilment service to existing and new customers. Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Business Continuity Voucher was used to part fund the research and was very beneficial. 

Slowly but surely Social Enterprises are now able to access mainstream business supports which is critical for their development and sustainability. More needs to be done and thankfully Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland (SERI) is on the case and is advocating for the needs of the sector.

Training & Work Experience

Training is currently confined to Health & Safety in the Workplace to ensure that staff can work safely at a social distance. We are delighted to be able to offer Enhanced Skills Workplace Safety training funded through the generosity of the people of Ireland through the Community Foundation of Ireland Comic Relief Fund. This training and mentoring programme will be a fantastic addition to the CV’s of our training staff and improve their employability. As a consequence we also plan to develop online training infrastructure  to ensure that we have both the capability  to maintain training in challenging circumstances but also to promote greater IT skills amongst training staff.


The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has been a strong reminder of the need for flexibility in business and the value of collaboration. The unemployment rate now stands at over 20% when the PUP payment is factored in and an incredible 45% for those aged 15-24 years. Unfortunately our community on Dublin’s Northside will be disproportionately affected and will have higher unemployment rates than the national average. 

So, there is much work to be done in supporting people return to work through work opportunities, confidence building and skills acquisition. We will also continue to target those most distant from the labour market and are looking forward to developing our Kickstart Employment Programme, funded through the Dormant Account fund/POBAL and in collaboration with The Irish Prison Service, The Probation Service and The Department of Justice. 

We are as relevant now as a solution to long-term unemployment as we were when first founded 25 years ago. We will continue to work hard with all our partners, Government, State agencies, Local Development, Business and Philanthropy to respond timely and effectively in our local community. We would like to acknowledge in particular the additional resources we received in recent times to help us continue deliver our social impact, in particular from Government and POBAL through the Stability Fund, Rethink Ireland through The Social Enterprise Development Fund and long term Corporate Social Responsibility supporters Allergan PLC.  

Over the past year, while challenging, we have responded positively and shown our agility and resilience and continued value. Our experience of operating during the pandemic coupled with our 25 year history has strengthened our skills, outlook and resolve to continue helping local unemployed people to transform their lives, and the welfare of their communities, for the better.

It’s Time to Shine!

It’s Time to Shine!

Co-inciding with International Women’s Day, our SERI co-member and SEDF winner The Shona Project launches the Shine Festival

One of the biggest gatherings of Irish Women ever!

This three-day, free-to-attend, online festival of empowerment features almost 100 speakers, 40,000 attendees and covers every possible topic that would interest or concern our attendees. It also includes a treasure hunt, spot prizes, performances, an opportunity to share your thoughts and a diverse speaker panel so every girl feels represented, seen and understood.

Check out the Shine Festival now at:

The Shona Project is a social enterprise that celebrates women from all over the world, those who succeed and those who overcome, those who lead and those who think, those who win and those who learn. We share our stories so that we don’t feel alone. We laugh, learn, try and cry together.

The website was built to share news that is relevant to young Irish women. We celebrate the achievements of powerful, successful and inspiring women from Ireland and all over the world. We ask experts for advice on common issues. Most importantly, we give young women a platform to share their own stories, in the hope of helping others and proving that none of us are alone. And sometimes, we’re just here for the craic.

Speedpak Group features in Social Enterprise Development Fund Showcase

Speedpak Group features in Social Enterprise Development Fund Showcase

We were delighted to feature in the 2021 Social Enterprise Development Fund Showcase that took place on Thursday 21st of January 2021 celebrating the impact achieved by the Fund’s 2020 Awardees.

Speedpak Group was one of 16 social enterprises to receive cash grants and business supports from the Fund in 2020. Watching the presentations of our co-awardees made us proud to be part of a group of organisations that are so enterprising, innovative and inclusive.

The online event was hosted by Alan Shortt and featured contributions from Deputy Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland and George Jones, Chairman of IPB Insurance.

The Social Enterprise Development Fund is a €3.2 million fund that has been created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Dormant Accounts Fund

A recording of the event can be seen at

Apply now for the 2021 Social Enterprise Development Fund!

Apply now for the 2021 Social Enterprise Development Fund!

The Social Enterprise Development Fund is offering cash grants and places on an accelerator programme to up to 16 Awardees in 2021.

The Fund invites applications from social enterprises that:

● Have a clear social mission that addresses a critical social issue
● Generate income from goods or services
● Are already up and running
● Reinvest any surplus into achieving their mission
● Have a not-for-profit legal form, e.g. companies limited guarantee
● Are separate from the Government and state agencies
● Have their main impact in the Republic of Ireland
● Have not already completed a multi-year fund with Rethink Ireland.

Full information can be found on the Rethink Ireland website at

The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 5th March 2021.

Enterprise Development Fund Showcase 2021

Enterprise Development Fund Showcase 2021

The 2021 Social Enterprise Development Fund Showcase – celebrating the impact achieved by its 2020 Awardees – took place on Thursday 21st of January 2021.

Speedpak Group is very grateful to have been one of the awardees and delighted to be part of the Showcase.

This special event was hosted by Alan Shortt and featured contributions from Deirdre Mortell (CEO of Rethink Ireland), Deputy Joe O’Brien TD (Minister of State for Community Development and Charities), George Jones (Chairman of IPB Insurance) and from each of the Awardees. [See list of Awardees below.]

The Social Enterprise Development Fund is a €3.2 million fund, created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Local Authorities Ireland and funded by IPB Insurance and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund. In 2020, 16 social enterprises received cash grants and business supports from the fund, while a further 24 enterprises received strategic support through the SEDF’s Genesis programme. 

Winners of the Pitch Fund were Turn2Me, Grow Remote, Triest Press and Specialisterne.

A recording of the event can now be viewed on Vimeo at

2020 Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardees

Amicitia works in rural areas across Ireland with consistently high poverty levels, co-creating initiatives to improve the quality of life of locally marginalised inhabitants, including aged, disabled, socially isolated people.

Castlecomer Discovery Park
This Co. Kilkenny adventure park was established to develop rural tourism, create jobs and regenerate the town of Castlecomer.

Cork Counselling Services
Cork Counselling Services is an IACP accredited organisation, providing counselling and psychotherapy services to anyone who needs them, regardless of background, as well as educating and training students to a professional counselling standard.

CyberSafe Ireland
CyberSafe Ireland teaches parents and children how to safely and responsibly navigate the internet.

Dublin Food Co-op
Dublin Food Co-op is a Kilmainham-based organic food community, promoting sustainably-grown organic and vegetarian wholefoods.

EPIC Social Enterprise
EPIC (Enhanced Progress Inspiring Change) offers employment opportunities to people trying to get their lives back on track following problems with addiction and/or past criminality.

Grow Remote
Grow Remote provides resources to help people obtain opportunities to work remotely in their community.

jumpAgrade is an online personalised teaching provider, which particularly supports second-level students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, who previously would have been unable to avail of grinds and exam preparation from qualified, expert teachers.

Irish Rural Link (Nasc Tuaithe na hÉireann)
Irish Rural Link is the National Meals on Wheels Coordination Unit, which continuously aims to make this national social service more sustainable.

Specialisterne is a social enterprise which recruits and supports neurodiverse people – people with autism, aspergers and other similar challenges – who are trying to find employment.

Speedpak Group
Speedpak Group (comprising Speedpak Contract Services and Shamrock Rosettes) is a manufacturing social enterprise that provides real work experience, accredited training, mentoring, tailored interventions and supports to long-term unemployed people. This combination of trading – with customers, quality standards and deadlines – and industry-led training is transformative, increasing participants’ employability and job resilience, leading to greater financial independence.

The Textile Studio
The Textile Studio provides first-time employment and workplace training opportunities to refugee women or women who have been through the criminal justice system

The Together Razem Centre offers social, legal, mental health and educational support to adults and children from the Polish and Eastern European migrant community at risk of exclusion and isolation in Ireland.

Triest Press
Roscommon-based Triest Press provides employment and training opportunities to people with intellectual

Turn2Me is a community of qualified and accredited mental health professionals, who provide an online confidential and anonymous service to people aged 12 and over, seeking support with their mental health.

Longford Women’s Link (LWL)
LWL offers educational and training opportunities aimed at providing equality, security and financial independence for women who left school early, left the workplace when they married and/or are at risk of domestic violence.