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.