Carndonagh Social Enterprise, Spraoi agus Spórt, secured school tours for over 530 local children, after principals appealed for help. Under Covid restrictions, tours were only permitted if they stayed local, so schools wanted help to create exciting and engaging days out.
“Social enterprises are unique in their ability to respond quickly to local needs, and we are no exception”, says Spraoi agus Spórt Co-Founder & CEO, Helen Nolan. “Our staff got creative and put together five options for safer small groups, so classes could remain in their bubbles and each pupil would get more attention. We also wanted the local economy to benefit, so we engaged with local business and activity owners too.”
In the end, Spraoi agus Spórt created an exciting programme involving fun activities at their centre and other local venues. A total of 9 schools took part, and 538 local children got their big day out. “These children would have missed out on their school tour if we had not stepped in,” says Helen.
The tour options included Build a Teddy Bear, Design a T-Shirt, surfing and a visit to their Fab Lab. There was also an obstacle course and park games. Helen says they also worked with Inishowen Surf School to provide surfing lessons. “We gave everyone a personalised medal from our Digital Fabrication Laboratory as a keepsake of their tour.”
“It’s important to highlight the fact that as a social enterprise, we believe in the importance of working with others in our community. Doherty’s (Fintan’s) provided the ice-cream cones, and The Diamond Cafe provided the lunches. We worked with Inishowen Surf School to provide the surfing lessons and BBQ and John Gibbons organised the park games and a treasure hunt.”
“Our school tours also catered particularly well for children with a disability,” says Helen. Spraoi has extensive experience delivering disability services and has specialised resources such as a state-of-the-art sensory room.
The tours also provided children with a great taster session for what Spraoi offers during the holidays and after school throughout the year.
“This initiative is a real living example of how a community can be stronger together,” says Helen. “We saw local schools buying into the importance of supporting their local social enterprise. We saw Spraoi delivering a top-class service, supported by the other businesses in the town.”
The primary schools that took part were Glentogher National School, Scoil Cholmchille Glengad, Cloontagh National School, St. Brigid’s National School, Glenmakee, Scoil Phadraig Rashenny,
Scoil Treasa Naofa Malin, St Patricks’s Boys’ School, Carndonagh, Urblereagh National School and Scoil Naomh Treasa Tiernasligo.
Alex Bradley, a 3rd class pupil, summed it up like this…. “Mum we are going on our school tour to Spraoi. Isn’t it so great that it’s local?” Children from Glentogher said they enjoyed the journey to the park and building their own bear.
Teachers were equally impressed. “We loved every part of the day. It was fun filled from start to finish,” says one teacher from Scoil Treasa Naofa Malin. “This tour was excellent, one of the best we ever went on,” says a teacher from Scoil Cholmchille Glengad. The ‘Spraoi Staff” were fantastic, great with the children and so well organised. They followed all Covid guidelines perfectly! The children were so happy throughout. The medal, ice cream and food gave great value for money and was of a high standard.”
Spraoi chairperson, Patricia Lee, lays out some key facts behind the fun days out. “This year we ensured that the school tour income from 538 pupils stayed in our local economy. It is important to recognise the importance of schools and parents supporting this initiative, by using our services you are supporting 12 full and part time jobs. These jobs ensure that we can deliver essential local services such as disability services and gives us the ability to adapt and respond to situations such just like this. Staying local ensured our schools reduced their carbon footprint too so it’s a win all round”.
Spraoi agus Spórt is an award-winning social enterprise based in Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal and founded in 2010. They provide excellent social, recreational and educational activities for the community, focused on family development and bringing social, recreational and economic benefits to the area. They have 15 volunteers and serve around 600 participants in their activities every week. Awards they have won include:
- 2020 Winner Pride of Place – Community Well-Being Initiative
- 2019 & 2018 Winner Social Enterprise of the Year at the Charity Impact Awards
- 2019 Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardee with Rethink Ireland
Spraoi agus Spórt Co-Founder & CEO Helen Nolan has welcomed a grant of €8.2m from the Rural Regeneration & Development Fund (RRDF) 2021 together with €1.3m in match funding from Donegal County Council for the Tús Nua regeneration project which will revitalise Carndonagh and act as catalyst for change both economically and socially following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tús Nua is a partnership between Donegal County Council and the multi-award-winning Carndonagh Social Enterprise Spraoi agus Spórt which aims to bring people of all generations back into the town centre for community services, education, recreation, housing, enterprise and jobs.
The project proposes the alteration of the former Leprechaun Bar in Carndonagh to create a new through access and public amenities including a Changing Places toilet facility together with the planned restoration of the former McDonagh Bros. Shop Building and site to provide for a new Digital Fabrication Laboratory, co-working space and office space. A youth space for teenagers, community kitchen, shed and sensory garden will also be provided.
It is also proposed that a stone building previously a textile factory in the town will be rejuvenated to establish a Creative Makers Hub to allow lnishowen craft workers to carry out their trades.
Co-Founder & CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have received this funding for the Tús Nua project which will help to revitalise Carndonagh and act as a key economic driver in the recovery of the town following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This really is a dream come true for the entire Spraoi agus Spórt team – board, staff, volunteers and service users! We have worked so hard over the last 10 years to play our part in the regeneration of our town, to enhance the level of services available locally for children, young people and the wider community and we look forward to having our vision realised. These plans will be a real game-changer for the town centre and most importantly will create much-needed employment and inclusive opportunities for the future.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD, Joe McHugh TD, the Inishowen elected members, and Donegal County Council who have supported Spraoi agus Spórt not just throughout the Tús Nua process but in everything we do.
“We would also like to say a special ‘Thank You’ to Inishowen Development Partnership, Carndonagh Traders Association, Foróige Carndonagh, and all of the community groups, businesses and individuals in the town who have supported our ambitious plans from the outset, it was this whole community collaboration that ensured this project got funded.”
Chairperson of Spraoi agus Spórt Patricia Lee added: “It is great news to have received this substantial funding for our exciting new project in partnership with Donegal County Council. It will help to create so many opportunities for local people and we look forward to opening in the Autumn of 2023.
“Our new Digital & Creative Hub will not only provide a wonderful space for young people to learn the necessary 21st century skills needed in the future in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) but also help so many people of all ages and abilities to play, create and learn through innovation and invention!
“Our new hub will also provide a fantastic stimulus for local entrepreneurship as an accelerator for business start-ups, which will add to the wider regeneration and economic development of Carndonagh and the surrounding areas.”
“Our Rural Future is bright; we are beyond delighted” concluded Helen Nolan.
1st – €500 Voucher for a Weekend Away
2nd – Marc Jacobs Snapshot Bag
3rd – L’Oreal Steam Pods.
The services which we will continue to provide during this time include:
• Alternative Respite for Children and Teenagers with a Disability and/or autism,
• Counselling rooms for the provision of mental health supports for children and young people,
• Inishowen Food Bank,
• School-Aged childcare for essential and frontline workers.
Thank you for your support and best of luck in our draw. Click here to buy a ticket https://www.idonate.ie/raffle/ValentinesRaffle
Public Consultation Event Thursday 10th September 2020
Donegal County Council in partnership with Spraoi agus Spórt is proposing a Town Centre Regeneration Project in Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal. This exciting project will aim to address both physical and social regeneration targets in the town through repurposing vacant or derelict buildings to create a new central ‘hub’ facilitating a diverse range of youth, commercial, social, creative, recreational and tourism needs together with remote co-working opportunities. Public realm interventions are also proposed.
The Council is presently working on design proposals to bring the capital elements of the final project through Part VIII planning and this work is being led by the architectural and urban design resources of the Regeneration and Development Team. A public consultation event has been organised at which the proposed plans will be on display and staff from the Council and Spraoi agus Spórt will be available to provide further information. The event will be held at Unit 7, Spraoi agus Spórt on Thursday 10th September 2020 from 2pm to 8pm by prior appointment only.
To book your appointment please either call Spraoi agus Spórt on: 0749373303 or book online here.
The event will be managed to ensure compliance with the Covid-19 Regulations and public health guidelines and attendance must be pre-booked in advance. Regrettably, drop-in cannot be facilitated. A comments box will be provided at the event together with feedback forms. Please exercise patience and appropriate respiratory etiquette should you attend this event. It is a requirement that persons attending wear masks/face coverings.
For enquiries please contact the Donegal County Council Regeneration & Development Team at: email@example.com or call Spraoi agus Spórt at: 0749373303.
Six MBA students from Trinity College Dublin who have named themselves ‘Team Tionchar’
(‘Team Impact’ in English) are working on an exciting new project with Carndonagh-based
Spraoi agus Spórt to help celebrate the multi-award winning social enterprise’s
achievements in the run up to their 10th anniversary later this year.
One of the members from ‘Team Tionchar’ is Edel McCabe who lives in Dublin but is
originally from Fahan – and is bringing her wealth of marketing and communications
experience to the project which includes creating an ‘infographic’ of Spraoi agus Spórt’s
contribution over 10 years and a ‘social impact measurement tool’to assist the organisation
with its future plans.
Spraoi agus Spórt opened its doors to the public in November 2010 as a parent and toddler
group – and has since grown into a vibrant family hub with workshops, events and afterschool
care which meet the needs of the local community. In December 2019 (for the second year
in a row) they won the highly coveted ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ award at the Charity
Impact Awards and were also a finalist in the ‘Best Social Enterprise’ category at the
prestigious All Ireland Community & Council Awards in February 2020.
Edel Mc Cabe, MBA student at Trinity College Dublin, said: “I am delighted to be working with
such an innovative and inspiring social enterprise as Spraoi agus Spórt which is from my own
county (Donegal) and amazingly only 20km away from my home house in Fahan. Indeed, all
of the members of ‘Team Tionchar’ are excited to be working on this project with CEO Helen
Nolan and all the staff. We really hope we can add value to their fantastic work – and I would
also personally hope to become involved with Spraoi agus Spórt following the completion of
my MBA programme and into the future – helping where and when I can”.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “We are delighted to have Edel
and ‘Team Tionchar’ applying their focus and wide-ranging skills to this project which is
creating a bespoke business solution for Spraoi agus Spórt.
“We have been on an incredible journey for a decade now – and know that our collaboration
with Trinity Business School will help us celebrate our achievements and assist us in bringing
our future plans to fruition – including a state-of-the-art ‘Youth Space’ for teenagers,
developing our FabLab and rural co-working hub for entrepreneurs – as well as establishing
two new Spraoi agus Spórt centres in Moville and Buncrana.
“Indeed, when we initially started out in 2010 we only offered 3 activities per week and
catered for 15 families and 20 children. However, as of today (i.e. before the Covid-19
restrictions) we had a footfall of over 700 people attending more than 60 different weekly
classes and activities. We are also now working across five key areas – parenting, children,
young people, adult learning and enterprise.
“As a result of the lockdown we have had to stop delivering our services in the centre.
However, from the outset in 2010 our business model has always been about responding to
the needs of the local community or our users – and during the Covid-19 restrictions this has
remained the same.
“Indeed, in March we donated our sewing machines and materials to the ‘Inishowen Mask
Makers’ to make PPE and our FabLab has been creating visors for healthcare workers. Our
staff are also operating a helpline from 8am to 8pm Monday to Sunday where they organise
grocery / prescription orders and deliveries (our Project Cineál service), and we have also
helped to set up the Inishowen Food Bank initiative to ensure parcels are delivered to those
most in need.
“A big part of our work over the past 10 years has also included providing alternative respite
for families of children and teenagers with a disability and/or autism – and we are now in the
process of rolling out a programme where we provide this service remotely via fun and
creative online Zoom activities.
“It is therefore wonderful that Team Tionchar are working with us to produce an ‘infographic’
and report that captures and analyses the impact Spraoi agus Spórt has had on the local
community – including in relation to improving mental health, ensuring social inclusion and
contributing to rural regeneration. Indeed, the infographic will be used as part of our
celebratory booklet which we will be publishing later this year and includes 10 stories
illustrating our impact over 10 years.
“Team Tionchar are also developing a user-friendly ‘social impact measurement tool’ that we
can use going forward to continually measure our impact across our five key areas. Indeed, in
terms of continuing to address the social needs and challenges in Inishowen it is imperative
that we are able to measure our impact and the success of our social mission”.
Helen Nolan concluded: “It has been a real pleasure to take part in the ‘Zoom calls’ and work
alongside this highly-experienced group of MBA professionals. Indeed, I have no doubts that
Edel and Team Tionchar will make a huge impact in terms of providing us with insightful and
positive recommendations for change – ultimately delivering real value to our social
enterprise as we embark on the next stage of our development.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Professor in Social Entrepreneurship Sheila
Cannon and Teaching Fellow Chris Gordon from the Trinity Business School who have
overseen this strategically important project for Spraoi agus Spórt. Indeed, it has been hugely
beneficial and an immensely rewarding experience for not only myself but everyone involved
at our social enterprise.”
For further information on the Trinity MBA project please contact
Spraoi agus Spórt CEO Helen Nolan on 0876390500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Spraoi agus Spórt Family Centre in Carndonagh has appealed to the public to donate to the
newly established Inishowen Food Bank – which provides a vital lifeline for vulnerable
individuals and families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet during the Covid-19
Spraoi agus Spórt are also encouraging people who are in need of other supports such as
grocery or prescription deliveries to avail of their ‘Project Cineál’ service (Irish for ‘kind’).
Supported by Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP), the Inishowen Food Bank was set
up in early April 2020. It has brought together a number of charities throughout the peninsula
(including The Exchange, Buncrana; Spraoi agus Spórt, Carndonagh; Trinity Court,
Newtowncunningham; Moville & District Family Resource Centre and Muff Red Cross) to
collect donations of food and toiletries to distribute to local people in need.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “I have been overwhelmed by the
amazing generosity and support from local businesses and individuals who – in the space of
only a few weeks – have donated huge amounts of food and toiletries to this project and have
volunteered their time to the operational running of the Inishowen Food Bank.
“More and more people throughout the peninsula are finding themselves struggling to put
food on the table, which is of particular concern for older and more vulnerable people and
for a significant number of families.
“As demand soars due to the ongoing lockdown and social distancing measures, this will
undoubtedly lead to depleted stock levels and our ability to provide much-needed parcels for
families containing nutritionally balanced supplies of non-perishable food as well as toiletries.
“I am therefore appealing to members of the public to continue to support our efforts by
donating food and toiletries at our drop off / collection points. In Carndonagh, these are
located at Supervalu, Simpsons and G&S / Costcutters supermarkets and at the porch of Unit
6 Spraoi agus Spórt.
“Suggested items that we are encouraging people to donate include:
• Jars – pasta sauce, jam, marmalade, baby food
• Tins – baked beans, chopped tomatoes, soup, tuna
• Store Cupboard – cooking oil, pasta, rice, tea bags, coffee, sugar, cereal
• Toiletries / Cleaning – soap, shampoo, toilet roll, washing up liquid, toothpaste, baby
“I would urge people who are now finding themselves in food crisis – possibly for the first
time as a result of the lockdown – to please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
“It is also important to stress that the Inishowen Food Bank is a strictly confidential service –
with no questions asked – and has been set up to support anyone in need during the Covid19 emergency.
“To avail of a free parcel from our Food Bank please call our helpline on 074 937 3303
(Monday-Sunday 8am-8pm), email email@example.com or complete the order form
online using the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/93HGKKK
“The online order form has also been created to help us identify individual / family dietary
requirements or needs – and our phone operators will be able to provide additional
“Following the lockdown measures introduced in March we also set up Project Cineál at
Spraoi agus Spórt to support vulnerable people in the community. This initiative offers a wide
range of supports such as dealing with grocery and prescription orders, arranging deliveries
from local supermarkets and businesses, providing arts & crafts and exercise ideas, printing
school resources, and generally just being available on the end of the phone for a chat.
“The Project Cineál service has had significant take-up, and is greatly appreciated by everyone
who has availed of it. Indeed, one example of someone who has benefitted from our service
is an elderly lady who lives alone in a remote area of Inishowen. She has an underlying health
condition and has not seen her children for 7 weeks due to ‘cocooning’. She therefore avails
of the Project Cineál service to get her prescriptions and shopping and has said: “I could not
ask anyone else to do this for me – and words cannot describe how grateful I am”.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has
already donated to the Inishowen Food Bank and to our fantastic team of volunteers who
have given up so much of their time during this difficult time to support both the Food Bank
and Project Cineál.
“Importantly, it has become ever more apparent just how vital these community services are
for vulnerable people throughout Inishowen – especially during this challenging time. Indeed,
we anticipate the number of users availing of our services to continue to increase week-onweek whilst Covid-19 restrictions remain in place.
“I’d therefore once again reiterate my appeal to the public to please give generously to the
Inishowen Food Bank and urge anyone who might need the services provided by Project
Cineál to call our helpline on 074 937 3303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Spraoi agus Spórt are playing a key role in the fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic
by manufacturing laser-cut face shields or ‘protective visors’ that can be worn by those
working on the frontline in community nursing homes, supermarkets, retail and
construction businesses across Inishowen and further afield.
Using state-of-the-art digital technology available in its ‘FabLab’ in Carndonagh they have
produced visors that are proving invaluable to frontline workers.
Spraoi agus Spórt plan to scale up the onsite production of their protective visors at its FabLab
to upwards of 500 per week – as government restrictions are eased for local businesses and
in the event of a potential second wave of Covid-19.
A FabLab – or Digital Fabrication Laboratory – is a facility where people can turn their ideas
into new products and prototypes, using digital design, 3D printers, laser-cutting and other
advanced digital manufacturing technology.
As Eamon Durey, Spraoi agus Spórt FabLab Project Manager explained: “FabLabs are
underpinned by two key concepts – access to technology that unlocks the ability to produce
prototypes and personal items, plus links to a global network of like-minded people. Within
hours of the realisation that there was a problem in accessing PPE, makers across Europe and
beyond were developing and sharing designs that could be fabricated quickly and cheaply in
local community-based FabLabs like ours in Carndonagh.
“Importantly, this response has highlighted the ability of agile, local ‘makerspaces’ to meet
the needs of their communities not only in times of crisis but also in terms of promoting selfreliance. Indeed, local needs can be best served by local solutions”.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan added: “It is clear from the national
response to the lockdown that local manufacturing of PPE such as visors has played a critical
role in protecting frontline workers within local communities. It is also key that a community
like ours in Carndonagh, at the periphery in terms of national and regional infrastructure, has
the capacity to respond quickly and directly to local demand – rather than finding ourselves
at the end of a very long supply chain.
“Indeed, the capacity we currently have at our FabLab in Carndonagh has a clear practical
impact on the direct protection of our local frontline workers and in slowing or preventing
the spread of any potential infection. In addition, our ability to ramp up production of visors
if needed is important in terms of instilling confidence within the community – providing
people with the reassurance that we have a significant level of resilience and self-sufficiency
available to protect local people working on the frontline.
“An example of this is when we recently delivered a consignment of our protective visors to
Simpson’s Supermarket in Carndonagh which was warmly received by staff. Indeed, as staff
members Caoimhe and Niamh said: “These visors are exactly what we need – and we feel
much more protected when we are wearing them. They are also so comfortable to wear and
it’s great that they are being produced locally in Carndonagh. Thank you Spraoi agus Spórt!”
Helen Nolan also says that the FabLab in Carndonagh plans to produce and distribute more
visors to nursing homes, local businesses and frontline workers in the coming weeks.
“With the easing of restrictions there will be a much greater demand for PPE and protective
visors, for example from retail shops, opticians and hairdressers – as well as a continuing need
within our healthcare sector” she said.
“We are therefore working towards having a fully resourced FabLab in place that can produce
upwards of 500 visors per week. Indeed, through our operation we will be able to instantly
respond to the future social needs of our community – as evidenced by the capability of our
FabLab to produce high-quality visors within days of the coronavirus outbreak.
“It has also been inspiring to see our FabLab staff and volunteers respond so selflessly to the
needs of frontline workers with such inventiveness, creativity and community spirit during
this deadly pandemic. Indeed, they can be best described as our very own ‘visor army’ who
are taking the fight to Covid-19”.
Critical role for FabLabs
Helen Nolan concluded: “Our rapid response in terms of PPE production of protective visors
also underlines the critical role for FabLabs going forward. Social distancing is likely to be a
feature of life for us all in the medium term and in this context local and ‘hyperlocal’
production becomes ever more important as communities seek to maximise local
sustainability. Indeed, our FabLab production facility is also able to apply a wide range of
other uses – and communities that have invested in such facilities, and have developed the
local skills to exploit them such as ours, are at a significant advantage in terms of being able
to produce PPE and better protect their community during Covid-19.
“I also strongly believe that the production of PPE is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes
to the innovative things that FabLabs can produce in the future – not only during the
coronavirus crisis but in the post-Covid era.
“It is therefore critical that the EU, Irish government and public at large continue to support
manufacturing facilities like the FabLab in Carndonagh – which is not only helping to create
local jobs and add value to existing local businesses but is also ensuring the long-term
sustainability of our social enterprise.”
The introductory offer for the protective visors manufactured at Spraoi agus Spórt’s FabLab
is €5, which includes a visor and four refills suitable for use with the clip-style frame. Spraoi
agus Spórt will also donate one visor to a frontline healthcare worker for every visor
purchased by a local business.
If you are a local firm, nursing home or other facility who would like to find out more about
the face shields / visors or place an order please contact Spraoi agus Spórt on 074 937 3303
or email email@example.com