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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.

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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 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.

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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 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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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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are being delivered by volunteers and community champions behind local visitor experiences. When planning a weekend break in Donegal, don’t forget to consider some of the terrific clients that our team have helped over the past few years.

From sports activities to sight-seeing, there are many venues and activities located throughout the county whose core purpose is social impact as well as visitors’ enjoyment.

These venues and experiences are housed alongside beautiful beaches, traditional pubs and scenic landscape. Whether you experience a heatwave or a downpour, you are guaranteed a warm welcome and value for money. Get booking.

If you’re brave enough to storm the cold waters, then our first two suggestions will raise an eyebrow…

Kilcar Kayaking or Mullinasole Bay Water Sports Club is the perfect opportunity to explore whilst having fun. Mullinasole Bay is located in Mullinasole, south of Donegal Town whilst Kilcar Kayaking is located in Kilcar, east of Donegal Town. We recently supported both organisations to bridge a finance gap for a retrospective grant fund. It’s fulfilling to see these activity groups flourish and it’s worthwhile visiting for the scenery alone.

Mullinasole Bay Water Sports Club are an unincorporated club with a constitution and a committee who run the Club with a not for profit ethos. Mullinasole Bay Water Sports Club was set up formally in 2020 to promote and provide resources for children and adults to enable them to enhance their experience in salt water based activities such as swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, Rowing, Sailing and boating. 

Whether health and fitness is a priority or bringing your family and friends together for an event is on your to do list, Finn Valley AC is one of many great facilities.

With one of the best sports facilities on the island of Ireland, Finn Valley AC offers a wide range of facilities. From athletics tracks, pitches to indoor facilities catering for events. Situated in Ballybofey, south of Letterkenny it truly is a modern clubhouse that caters for all and could be the perfect opportunity to hold an event or keep fit throughout your tenure in Donegal. With countless athletes charging out of the blocks representing Ireland, proving the level of commitment and professionalism that goes on behind the scenes here at Finn Valley AC.

Famously, the terrain of Donegal is known for its breath-taking views and there is no exception when mentioning Fort Dunree – which is definitely one for the road trip bucket list with a driving route worthy of an Instagram. Located on the North Coast of Donegal overlooking the North Atlantic Sea.

Fort Dunree was established to enhance the level of tourism on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal. The centre underwent major refurbishments in 2000, and again in 2006, and now incorporates walks, a museum, and a café. In 2019 the organisation received a loan from Community Finance Ireland to bridge FLAG grant aid and cash flow being used towards capital upgrades. 

“Its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife are drawing increasing numbers of visitors to one of Inishowen’s most beautiful and peaceful locations. It is a must see for every visitor to the Inishowen peninsula.” – Fort Dunree.

We first helped support Fort Dunree in 2007 so it’s great to see the impact it’s had on tourism over a decade later.

On site, is a military museum with exhibitions, events and the ability to hire the venue for celebrations such as weddings, receptions and conferences would be a unique experience and one to remember. Fort Dunree in Irish means “Forth of the Heather”.

Why not take a trip into what life used to be like and experience the harsh reality of the famine era with a tour around the Dunfanaghy Workhouse.

Located in Dunfanaghy, which now houses a Heritage Centre, explores local history and culture. This beautiful historic building includes tourist information point for the area, as well as an exhibition centre, a coffee shop, art gallery, craft and book shop.

The Workhouse opened as a heritage centre in 1995, and was officially opened by the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

Catering for all, admission is free into the Workhouse. Although, some exhibitions do charge giving an in-depth experience of the struggles throughout The Famine and what the Workhouse was used for – a worthwhile experience.

In summary, this is just a snapshot of the inspiring organisations that we are able to support and love to see the social impact added throughout the Island of Ireland, highlighting projects that continue to choose change reinforces our purpose and the true value of social finance. If you are ever in the region of Donegal and are looking for things to do, make sure to consider these wonderful sites.

With a total of 225 miles of track, formed the largest narrow gauge railway system in north-west Europe from Co. Donegal to Co. Derry and Lough Swilly Railway.

A blast from the past, allowing you to see what life was like back in 1889 with one of the first combustion engines in the world. The recently refurbished museum comprises of railway rolling stock, interesting artefacts, displays, a video presentation, audio presentations, model railways, a reference library, a shop, a coffee hut and much more. The star exhibit has returned to the museum, an original 1907 Donegal Railway steam engine, “Drumboe”, the first engine to return to the county in many decades.

Donegal Railway Heritage Centre have been in existence for over 20 years in Donegal Town attracting some 6,000 visitors per year. At Community Finance Ireland, we are proud to have supported this organisation in restructuring their existing loans to aid cash flow.

Spending your time and money in these venues helps deliver social impact and the endorsement that the local volunteers and committees’ efforts are valued.

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The ambition of all within the Social Economy is to encourage sustainability and reduce levels of dependency, where possible, on the uncontrollable, whatever guise it might take.

The Community Voluntary & Social Enterprise (CVSE) sector owes a great deal to the availability of charitable support, as well as start-up and development grants from various quarters. Much of the Community & Voluntary subset will no doubt always be reliant on continued grant support to maintain the level of service provision. But what of the rest of the sector involved in growing the earned income side of their Social Enterprise?

Social Enterprise will usually need debt finance at some point, to draw down retrospective grant support, for capital acquisition, development, refinance personal debt, or manage existing unsustainable borrowings where immediate demands on repayment are a real threat.

The volunteer led ethos implies to the conventional debt system that there exists at least a reduced, if not total, absence of financial vested interest in the project.

The absence of collateral of any marketable value, often requires volunteers to sign personal guarantees in order to access this debt. A community manager pledging their home as security on a loan has been as bad as I have seen. That the voluntary board allowed the situation to arise is a whole other matter.

Social Finance is the incubator for the community sector on the road to achieving experience in borrowing, developing a credit score, but on terms and conditions appropriate to that market. It does not request personal guarantees off volunteers (or staff!). It normally does not charge arrangement fees. Its priorities are simple.

Presently in Ireland (2022), social finance up to a general limit of €500k is available to the CVSE sector absent arrangement fees and personal guarantees, yet recent survey findings would suggest that much of the sector remains unaware of the support, with over 50% financed by the conventional banking instruments such as overdrafts and secured borrowings.

IRD Kiltimagh in Co. Mayo are clients who understand the benefits of refinancing and are thriving as a result.

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Today CFI’s impact was evidenced as Nora Keogh Client Relationship Manager for the Munster region, provided support to local social enterprise Limerick Gateway to Education.

Nora met with the brilliant charity, based in Limerick City, to hear first-hand how they are working to address social and economic barriers to education.

Our thanks also to the Limerick Leader for also recognising the merits of this organisation and featuring the organisation’s story in the local business section of the paper and online on the ilovelimerick.ie website.

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. 

Community Finance Ireland was established in 1995, and now supports a diverse portfolio of clients across the island of Ireland from Bantry to Belfast, 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.

Pictured above: Nora Keogh (CFI Client Relationship Manager Munster) with Limerick Gateway to Education’s Andy Fogerty (Accountant), Paul Goodwin (Assistant Manager) and Suzanne Roche (CEO , Founder).

For further information, visit www.communityfinanceireland.com or @ComFinanceIrl. 

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At Community Finance Ireland we take a hands-on approach when it comes to working with our clients. We put people first. When our clients call with a query, they hear a familiar voice at the end of the phone. They know the face who is at the other end of an email. Our Change-Makers are on the ground, supporting communities, meeting clients and making an impact in their regions.

We speak finance but we hear people – So, we thought you might like to get to know them a bit better.

Covering mid-south Leinster, our next Change-Maker is Barry Symes, Client Executive from Waterford. Working with clients like Red Cross Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue and Sensational Kids. Barry is passionate about growing Community Finance Ireland’s brand and impact in Leinster.  

Just two of Barry’s clients Sensational Kids (left), Irish Red Cross Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue (Right)

What did your journey to Community Finance Ireland look like?

I joined Community Finance Ireland in 2017. Prior to that, I spent 17 years working for a private financial institution where I rose to Senior Managerial level. I am the founder and proprietor of SME Debt Solutions. In terms of my education, I completed a diploma in Financial Services from Waterford Institute of Technology and hold a certificate in Agriculture from Teagasc. I am also an Associate Member of the Institute of Banks.

What does your current client base look like? Are there sectors you expect to see or want to see growth in?

I have a diverse range of clients with investments in most sectors. With mid-south Leinster being a largely rural area, Sport & Community make up a large portion of my clients. Community Finance Ireland has only been active in this area for the last four years so these two are where I see the most growth happening. However, as awareness grows of what we have to offer local communities I’d hope to see that growth in lots of other areas.

Do you have a client that, in your opinion, best demonstrates the impact Community Finance Ireland can have?

Thankfully, there are multiple of examples of where CFI’s investment has been a key element for positive impact. A recent one is Kiltegan GAA Club, who collaborated with their community, camogie club and stakeholders like the Local Authority, Local Development Company and CFI to bring about a transformational sporting & community project for their village. This has resulted in the village being nominated for a prestigious Pride of Place Award. A most deserving nomination.

How do you switch off from work? What are your hobbies and interests?

A young family keeps one busy, as does my wide interest in sports, politics, motors, reading and other such interests.

Now you know a little more about us, we’d like to hear about you.

If you and your team have a dream that could make a difference in your community, we’re here to listen. Whether you want to change something by solving a problem or creating an opportunity, we want to hear what you have to say.

Share this article:

At Community Finance Ireland we take a hands-on approach when it comes to working with our clients. We put people first. When our clients call with a query, they hear a familiar voice at the end of the phone. They know the face who is at the other end of an email. Our Change-Makers are on the ground, supporting communities, meeting clients and making an impact in their regions.

We speak finance but we hear people – So, we thought you might like to get to know them a bit better.

Our next Change-Maker is Anne Graham, Client Executive from Drumfries, Co.Donegal. A new face in the Community Finance Ireland team, Anne is taking advantage of the easing of restrictions to get out and about in Connaught to meet with clients like Sensational Kids, Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre and Alone.

Some of Anne’s clients from L to R: Sensational Kids, Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre and Alone.

What did your journey to Community Finance Ireland look like?

I have worked in Financial Services throughout my whole career and wore many hats such as a Loan & Mortgage Advisor and Business Executive, these roles provided me with me valuable credit assessment skills which I bring to my new role at Community Finance Ireland.

Throughout my career, I gained invaluable and highly educational, practical experience but I felt I still needed a formal qualification to complement the skills I garnered over the years.  In 2017, I decided to undertake an MBA in Business Administration, through University of Ulster, which I completed in May 2020.  I thoroughly enjoyed this educational experience and believe the timing of this course was ideal as it allowed me to reflect, value and share my professional, practical and voluntary experience. 

Away from work, I have been a volunteer at our local community centreSliabh Sneacht CentreI began working with our committee as a treasurer and fundraiser and I now hold the position of chairperson.  This voluntary experience was instrumental in steering my latest career move to CFI as I fully understand the challenges, difficulties and rewarding experience that comes with working in a community setting and that sense of shared achievement when your dream becomes a reality.  I can’t wait to help and support ‘the dreamers’ and I believe I am ideally positioned to support ‘the change makers’ as I have walked their path before.

What does your current client base look like? Are there sectors you expect to see or want to see growth in?

My current client base is broad and diverse and includes everything from tourism and sport, to housing associations and forestry groups. Out here in the west we have rich cultural heritage and strong community organisations so I work with a range of community centres, museums, arts centres, drama groups, church and faith-based groups. One day I’m talking to an angling group, the next is a counselling service, the next it’s a community playgroup.

As a result of Covid-19, I think we’ll see more organisations within those sectors growing and trying to meet the changing demands in their local communities. Covid-19 has also shown us the benefits of physical activity and outdoor spaces. Staycations will provide growth opportunities in tourism and outdoor pursuits. The pandemic has shown that we don’t necessarily need to be tied to a fixed office space and as a result, growth of remote working hubs has been fast tracked. Never has the concept of wellbeing and mental health ever been amplified more and its importance to every facet of our society, the need for connectedness and community has been magnified and immeasurable.

Do you have a client that, in your opinion, best demonstrates the impact Community Finance Ireland can have?

To me, there are a number of clients that really demonstrate the impact Community Finance Ireland can have.

Tourmakeady GAA Club in Mayo are exemplars in what can be achieved in a rural sports Club. It is much more than a sports club it is the community centre of this locality.

IRD Kiltimagh in Mayo who support directly and indirectly Enterprise, Tourism, Housing, Arts, any other community group that needs support.

How do you switch off from work? What are your hobbies and interests?

I switch off by spending time with family and friends. I’m kept busy during the week with my son and daughter’s sporting activities (football and GAA). Most nights there is training or match to attend. At the weekends I try to squeeze in a bit of jogging and sea swimming with friends and walking with family. I also enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes when time allows, and have recently joined a ladies’ book club so I’m looking forward to reading more.

Now you know a little more about us, we’d like to hear about you.

If you and your team have a dream that could make a difference in your community, we’re here to listen. Whether you want to change something by solving a problem or creating an opportunity, we want to hear what you have to say.

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