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The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Connacht.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre, Co. Galway

Ballinasloe Town Hall’s Christmas panto Cinderella is performed by local drama society B’Sloe Panto and marks their return to the stage for their first Christmas show since the Covid 19 Pandemic. Running from Monday 5th December to Sunday 11th December it’s sure to be a fun day out for all the family.

Tickets for this event are available online or from the ticket office at J&S Photos, Society Street, Ballinasloe.

The Glens Centre, Co. Leitrim

It has been two years since their last community Christmas show, but the Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company are back with a new show written by Treasa Nealon, directed by Sonia Norris and produced by the Glens Centre.

The characters of Fairy-Tale Land TV Show are on strike! The prince is tired of rescuing the princesses, the villains are in dire need of some anger management and the step-mothers just want everyone to know how misunderstood they are! But Sarah is determined to get them on her screens, because otherwise she will have to spend more time with her family and less time on her phone.

Join her on her unexpected and magical journey through Fairy-Tale Land this December. With four shows running from 9th to 11th December, get your tickets now.

An Mheithal Comhshaol Co-Op, Co. Mayo

The award-winning An Mheitheal Rothar (AMR) are a social-sustainable enterprise based in Galway city who are rolling out an expanded service at their community workshop at NUI Galway and at their retail outlet in Galway Shopping Centre, thanks to recent investment from Community Finance Ireland.

Founded in 2012, An Mheitheal Rothar provides access to cycling and cycling mechanic skills training to people in Galway, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2018, the social enterprise introduced their award winning ‘Recycle Your Cycle’ initiative, which repairs and upcycles second-hand bikes.

Whether you want to view the latest range of bikes on offer or book your own bicycle in for a fine tune, visit their website for more info.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit the Facebook post below and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

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The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Leinster.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

Dunbrody Famine Ship, Co. Wexford

The Santa Wonderland Experience returns to the Dunbrody Visitor Centre again this year for 11 dates, commencing on Saturday 3rd December and running right up until 23rd December.

Come along to the Magical Wonderland, meet mischievous elves, HoneyComb & Peppermint, and see Santa & Mrs. Claus busily preparing for the most important night of the year.

Santa and his hardworking team are determined to pull out all the stops to ensure everyone has a safe and memorable visit.

It’s a mesmerising experience from start to finish and offers families an abundance of photo opportunities. Tickets are priced at €18 per child (this includes an age appropriate present) and €10 per Adult. For more information and to book your slot visit the website.

Castlecomer Discovery Park, Co. Kilkenny

Castlecomer Discovery Park’s elf village becomes Christmas central this year, as they light up the area around the fairy houses to gear up the festive feels. The beautiful Christmas lights transform the space into a wonderful destination for a winter walk.

Children aged 3-8 can bounce off some pre-Christmas energy in the bouncing nets and junior adventure course and take part in the elf on the shelf scavenger hunt, while mum and dad can enjoy hot chocolate or mulled wine from the Canopy Café.

For more information and to buy tickets visit Castlecomer Discovery Park’s Website.

Butler Gallery, Co. Kilkenny

Butler Gallery continues its successful partnership with the immensely talented Kilkenny-based and five time Oscar© nominated Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, in an exhibition response to their new animated film My Father’s Dragon, directed by Nora Twomey.

The film is based on a beloved 1948 fantastical children’s novel by Ruth Stilies Gannett about Elmer Elevator, a boy who runs away from home to rescue Boris, a captive baby dragon trapped on a wild island.

The exhibition which runs to the 29th January is curated by Anna O’Sullivan, Butler Gallery Director, and designed by award winning exhibition designer Steven McNamara of Roji.

The exhibition combines the expertise of Butler Gallery’s exhibition team with Cartoon Saloons worldwide reach and distinctive style to develop an immersive, sensory and child-centred exhibition experience that will captivate audiences of all ages. Get your tickets now.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit our the Facebook post and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

Share this article:

The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Ulster.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

The Strand Arts Centre, Co. Antrim

Strand Arts Centre is the only remaining cinema from Northern Ireland’s golden era. A jewel of Art Deco design, the venue has been at the heart of the East Belfast community for decades.

This year’s Christmas movie offerings include classics and family favourites: It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Elf, Muppets’ Christmas Carol and Die Hard (Is it a Christmas movie?).

Their live Christmas spectacle for 2022 is Once Upon A Time: A Magical Princess Adventure with shows on 2nd and 3rd December and the CBeebies Panto Dick Whittington and His Cat (which will screen live at the Strand on 3rd,4th, 10th and 11th December) are a great excuse for some quality time with the kids to get you in the festive mood.

For more information, to book your tickets, or to buy Strand gift vouchers for the cinephiles in your family, visit the Strand’s website.

Bolster Community, Co. Down

Bolster Community (formerly Space NI) is a charity and social enterprise that offers practical support for individuals and families, helping them to get through and get ahead.

As part of their activity the organisation manage the candle-making social enterprise Acorn. Every Acorn product is handmade in Northern Ireland by a gifted community of young adults with additional needs. They provide their makers with a ‘scents’ of achievement and ensure every purchase provides them with pride, purpose and opportunity. By buying social, all profits from your purchase goes back into supporting Bolster Community’s vital services.

You can buy one of their unique scented candles from their website, a perfect stocking filler.

Martin Hurls, Co. Antrim

Martin Hurls is an artisan maker of hand-made hurls used in Gaelic Games. As well as producing some of the best hurls in Ireland, they also have a range of equipment, apparel and mementos to keep you looking & playing your best. The perfect gift for sport lovers at Christmas time. Check out their range online.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit our the Facebook post and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

Share this article:

The festive season is a time for reflection, for love and cheer, for making memories and spending quality time with family and friends. It is also a time for community and for charity.

The cost of living crisis continues to affect people across the island of Ireland, but also social enterprises and businesses striving to deliver social impact in the Community and Voluntary Sector.

As you contemplate your Christmas list this year, why not consider some of the gifts and activities that support social enterprises in your area? Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these home-grown experiences and products are great gift ideas, and will also deliver social impact to communities that are local to you in Munster.

Here are just a few ideas for you to think about:

Terryglass Community Hall, Co. Tipperary

Learn how to cook delicious mince pies and pick up tips on how to perfect your favourite festive snacks with TV Celebrity Chef Catherine Leyden (Ireland AM). Catherine comes to Terryglass Community Hall for a one-off festive cookery evening on Wednesday 30th November.

Tickets are priced at €25.00 and can be purchased through the group’s facebook page or in the Derg Inn Shop.

Sailing Into Wellness, Co. Cork

Sailing into Wellness is a not for profit social enterprise born out of a passion to utilize the unique setting of the sea to help our communities. The organisation’s vision is for Sailing into Wellness to be a healthy natural solution for our communities to look after their physical and mental well-being and it is their mission to use the sea to inspire change in our communities.

Sailing Into Wellness is open to everyone and could be the perfect solution to help de-stress after the Christmas period, or offer an opportunity for something to look forward to in the slow month of January. To find out more or to enquire about a booking, visit their website.

Sneem Digital Hub, Co. Kerry

Sneem Digital Hub has something for everyone – employees, employers, remote workers and small business owners. The Hub is a modern and stylish facility with competitive packages and state of the art facilities available in a rural locale to suit your requirements.

During the winter months, they are running a special discount offer for people living in the local area. To find out more visit their website or contact aidan.murray@sneemdigitalhub.

Christmas Competition

Community Finance Ireland have teamed up with Martin Hurls to offer a £100 voucher to spend on their wares. One lucky winner will win this in our Facebook Competition running in the lead up to Christmas. To be in with a chance of winning simply visit our the Facebook post and follow the instructions to be entered into the draw.

Spending your time and money in these venues and on these products not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that, the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#SocialTime is always a good time.

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Amanda Zahringer is the Board Chair of UCIT Ireland t/a Community Finance Ireland. She utilises her legal, financial and philanthropic expertise to ensure that Community Finance Ireland can create a world-class community finance system that works towards ensuring that positive social impact is felt – not just dreamt. This is her story…

“I was deliberately and intentionally exploring board roles a few years ago because I’m a huge believer in paying it forward. I received a scholarship at 16 which changed my trajectory and worldview, it gave me an entirely ‘new possible’ and ignited my drive and ambition. To quote a good friend, ‘when you have more than enough, extend the table, don’t build a bigger fence’. I am exceptionally fortunate to be surrounded by brilliant and passionate people who are continually extending and even creating new tables.

So, in search of a role where I could create powerful change at scale, I turned to the leaders around me who encouraged me to take on board roles. I contacted Boardmatch, and the journey began.

I gave them a list of extremely focused requirements. I told them I needed purpose, I wanted to leverage my unique skill set and it was critical that our values were aligned. And then I waited for the right role to come up. Eventually, the perfect match came about.

I truly believe there is a board role for everyone, from the neurodiversity advocate to the art teacher, the finance director, the fashion designer to the corporate lawyer. You just need to find something you’re truly passionate about. Then you do your due diligence, understand the commitment, and lean in knowing you’ll find the right one.

I found what some like to call, my ‘unicorn role’. I started my career as a corporate lawyer, led billion-dollar transactions across the world, had C-Suite roles and global roles, but my work as a board member and Chair has been my biggest challenge and biggest reward.

Sitting on the board of this social enterprise, I’m so fortunate because I am always surrounded by people who are continually extending that table, no matter what the challenges. I feel a great sense of responsibility, ensuring the right people are in place to create solutions to our world problems through our exceptional organisation and people. As a board member, I know I’m working to make sure that magic happens; that true, positive change is progressing.

This role is where I can empower others to be big, bold and brave with their moves. It’s kept me sharp, and it’s kept me humble. I have a huge sense of pride for the projects we work on, ensuring change-makers can continue paving the way. When you empower a community to lead progress and increase that prosperity circle for themselves, I don’t think there can be any greater thing in life.”

This piece resulted from Amanda Zahringer’s interview with We Act on 15th November 2022. Find out more about We Act here and to find out more about Community Finance Ireland visit our website or follow us on Twitter 

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €1.6million in support for Donegal community organisations.

Ballyshannon-based GAA Club, Aodh Ruadh is celebrating an upgrade to its facilities, helping it maintain county ground status and attract new members, thanks to funding from Community Finance Ireland (CFI). 

Originally founded in 1909, Aodh Ruadh CLG is one of the foremost GAA Clubs in Co. Donegal, with around 400 members.  The Club consists of the main pitch, Father Tierney Park, which holds county ground status and hosts at least one National Football League fixture each year.  It also owns Pairc Aodh Ruadh (Mundy’s field) on an adjoining site, which consists of two sand-based playing fields and training facilities including a Fitness Trail and a Hurling Wall. Aodh Ruadh CLG has enjoyed significant success at County, Provincial & National level and offers both football & hurling to members.

Patsy Kilgannon, committee member at Aodh Rua GAA, said that awareness of Community Finance Ireland’s experience in supporting GAA clubs was a key factor in their decision-making process.  He said: 

There was an awareness of Community Finance Ireland in the club, and we felt it was as convenient to go to Community Finance Ireland instead of traditional sources of finance. A great credit to Anne for making the process a positive experience all the way. The loan from Community Finance Ireland has been utilised to assist with our recent redevelopment costs, helping us to maintain county ground status and improve facilities for our members.”

Patsy Kilgannon, Committee Member, Aodh Ruadh GAA

Since 2016, Community Finance Ireland  has provided €1.6million in social finance loans to 21 projects based in Donegal.  Client Relationship Manager for Connacht and Donegal, Anne Graham, says there’s huge potential for others in Donegal to follow in Aodh Ruadh’s footsteps. 

Ms. Graham said:

“It’s fantastic to see GAA Clubs like Aodh Ruadh CLG investing in their facilities, which not alone helps them to maintain their county ground status, but no doubt plays a role in attracting and retaining members.  Like Aodh Ruadh CLG, Community Finance Ireland is focused on social improvement – all the repayments made on social finance loans go right back into supporting another community group either here in Donegal or across the country.”

Anne Graham, Client Relationship Manager for Connacht and Donegal, Community Finance Ireland

About Community Finance Ireland

Community Finance Ireland delivers social finance solutions that support local communities and drive social impact through sports, community projects, faith-based groups, Arts & Heritage, Childcare, Environment, Health & Wellbeing, Housing, Tourism and social enterprises.  It is the fastest growing dedicated social finance provider across the island of Ireland and the UK. 

Community Finance Ireland is part of the UCIT Group, established in Belfast in 1995 and now supports a diverse portfolio of clients across the island of Ireland from Bantry to Ballymoney, and from Dublin to Dingle.

Currently, Community Finance Ireland is the only Irish and UK member of FEBEA, the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. 

For further information, visit our website or follow us on Twitter.  

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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €1 million in support for Tipperary community organisations.

Boher Community Development Group is a shining example of what a community can achieve when they come together. Last year Community Finance Ireland supported Boher Community Development Group in the creation of a sensory garden and recreational amenity at the heart of Boher, Co Tipperary.

Nora Keogh, Client Relationship Manager at Community Finance Ireland recently returned to Boher to see the finished community sensory garden, which is wheelchair accessible and includes a geodome, biodiversity garden and a mud kitchen.

Ms. Keogh said:

“It is such a joy to come back to Boher to see this incredible project brought to life and being enjoyed by children and their families. At Community Finance Ireland we support a huge range of community and volunteer-led projects from sports projects to social enterprises to faith-based groups, but they all start with an idea and a group of people who want to make it work.

“Nicola and the team at Boher Community Development Group came to Community Finance Ireland with an idea and we were delighted to help them make it a reality. This group was established just before our first lockdown in 2020 and it goes to show, when you have a vision for your local community, and the drive to create that change, there’s no limit to what you can do.”

Nicola Welford, Chairperson at Boher Community Development Group, said:

“Nicola and the team at Boher Community Development Group came to Community Finance Ireland “We’re very proud of all we’ve achieved for the local community here in Boher. We’re a population of around 350 people and we felt it was so important that we create a space where everyone would feel welcome. It was important that this space was fully wheelchair accessible and inclusive to all.”

“As a small group, everything we achieve is done through the commitment of our volunteers and the support of our local community – so many people played a part in fundraising and in donating their time to create this. To have the social finance support from Community Finance Ireland to get us over the line was fantastic – Nora and the team understand the challenges which community organisations face and their services are tailored to support volunteer-led groups like ours. We couldn’t have made this a reality without them.”

About Community Finance Ireland

Community Finance Ireland delivers social finance solutions that support local communities and drive social impact through sports, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises.  It is the fastest growing dedicated social finance provider across the island of Ireland and the UK. 

Community Finance Ireland is part of the UCIT Group, established in Belfast in 1995 and now supports a diverse portfolio of clients across the island of Ireland from Bantry to Ballymoney, and from Dublin to Dingle.

Currently, Community Finance Ireland is the only Irish and UK member of FEBEA, the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. 

For further information, visit www.communityfinanceireland.com or keep in touch on our teams latest news @ComFinanceIrl.  

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An Mheitheal Rothar continue to Recycle bikes for locals and we were delighted to help.

– Community Finance Ireland delivers €0.5million in support for Galway community organisations –

The award-winning An Mheitheal Rothar (AMR), a social-sustainable enterprise based in Galway City, is rolling out an expanded service at their community workshop at NUI Galway and at their retail outlet in Galway Shopping Centre, thanks to funding from Community Finance Ireland (CFI). 

Founded in 2012, An Mheitheal Rothar provides access to cycling and cycling mechanic skills training to people in Galway, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2018, the social enterprise introduced their award winning ‘Recycle Your Cycle’ initiative, which repairs and upcycles second-hand bikes. 

An Mheitheal Comhashaol Cooperative, trading as An Mheitheal Rothar, accessed a bridging loan from Community Finance Ireland, an all-island social finance provider, which supports community projects that drive social impact through sports, the arts, faith-based groups and social enterprises.

Cathy Coote, Fundraising and Communications Officer at An Mheitheal Rothar,said the funding has been critical to expand and upscale their offering to the local community in Galway. She said: 

“Our loan from Community Finance Ireland is enabling us to invest in new bike stock for our bike shop. Customers can avail of the Bike to Work scheme for these new bikes. The funds we generate support our work, such as providing free second-hand bikes for students studying under the University of Sanctuary programme as well as repairs, training and upcycled bikes for sale. All this helps to grow the numbers of people cycling for health, transport and sustainability.”

Since 2016, CFI has provided €0.5million in social finance loans to projects based in Galway.  Client Relationship Manager for Connacht and Donegal, Anne Graham, says there’s huge potential for others in Galway to follow in AMR’s footsteps. 

Ms. Graham said: “It’s fantastic to see AMR growing to meet the demand in their local community and for that growth to be sustainable. Like AMR, Community Finance Ireland is a social enterprise – all the repayments made on social finance loans go right back into supporting another community group either here in Galway or across the country. 

“In that sense, our social finance loans aren’t dissimilar to the circular economy which AMR support. We’re delighted to be helping people in Galway get on their bikes, which will in turn help us support a local GAA club in Donegal or a Family Recourse Centre in Mayo.”

  • Anne Graham, Community Finance Ireland is working across Connaught and Donegal
  • For more information on An Mheitheal Rothar, visit: https://bikeworkshops.ie/ 

About Community Finance Ireland

Community Finance Ireland delivers social finance solutions that support local communities and drive social impact through sports, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises.  It is the fastest growing dedicated social finance provider across the island of Ireland and the UK. 

Community Finance Ireland is part of the UCIT Group, established in Belfast in 1995 and now supports a diverse portfolio of clients across the island of Ireland from Bantry to Ballymoney, and from Dublin to Dingle.

Currently, Community Finance Ireland is the only Irish and UK member of FEBEA, the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. 

For further information, visit www.communityfinanceireland.com or keep in touch on our teams latest news @ComFinanceIrl.  

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The city of Derry~Londonderry has long been synoymous with Halloween. Known as the Halloween Capital of Europe and voted the best place in the world to celebrate it.

The festival returns in 2022 and will run from Friday 28th October right through until Halloween night. Featuring family orientated activities like monster making arts and crafts, a pumpkin hunt and Halloween storytelling. For older visitors there is cemetery tours, a dress up silent disco and music gigs from Alabama 3 and Hudson Taylor. There’s also a big fireworks finale.

If you are visiting Derry~Londonderry this Halloween, this is a also a perfect opportunity to visit some of the local social enterprises in the area. Delivered by volunteers and community champions, these local visitor experiences’ core purpose is social impact as well as visitors’ enjoyment.

Access to the Arts for All

Greater Shantallow Arts is a community arts organisation that aims to provide direct access to the arts within disadvantaged communities in the Greater Shantallow Area/Outer North Region of Derry. Their Studio 2 premises is one of Ireland’s best loved Arts centres. The group provide a range of activities from theatre shows to classes and workshops. The highlight of their year is their partnership with North West Carnival to create a wonderful Halloween Carnival.

Sensory Support

ASpace2 MultiSensory Centre provides day opportunities for adults and children with additional needs. The five multi-sensory rooms are designed to ensure that children and young adults with additional support needs are able to access a community facility which is age appropriate and is meaningful regardless of ability.

Book your Choice – there’s loads to choose from:

New Gate Arts & Culture Centre is a vibrant arts and culture centre located in the Fountain area of the city. Close to the historic walls and the city centre it offers a range of workshops, classes, performances, talks, tours, festivals and cultural events with something for everyone.

Inclusive Coffee taste:

The Whistle Stop Café is found on Derry’s Foyle Road and is part of the North West Learning Disability Centre. It is the perfect stop for a bite to eat or a delicious baked treat after a visit to the nearby St Columb’s Cathedral. The café is a fantastic social enterprise that offers employment opportunities to people with disabilities. 

History Buffs this way:

The Museum of Free Derry is dedicated to telling the story of what happened in the city between the years 1968 and 1972. Located in Derry’s Bogside where the events of Bloody Sunday unfolded, particular focus is paid to those most involved and effected by these events. The exhibition aims to remember and help understand the local history of the city and its contribution to the ground breaking civil rights struggle which erupted in Derry in the mid-1960s and culminated in the massacre on Bloody Sunday. A must see for any history aficionados.

Visit the Farm and make new friends

Just a 20 minute drive outside of the city, Gortilea Social Farm provides a space for practical, meaningful and enjoyable day experiences in a rural environment irrespective of ability or disability. Visitors can look after a range of livestock from sheep, cattle and horses as well as learning about growing and cooking healthy meals. Providing both indoor and outdoor activities ensures that there is something to do no matter the weather conditions. 

Spending your time and money in these venues not only helps deliver social impact but is an endorsement that,  the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

#Social Time is always a good time.

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