Stepping Stones Highly Commended

Stepping Stones NI Chief Officer, Paula Jennings receiving the High Commendation Award for Social Enterprise of the Year.
Stepping Stones NI Chief Officer, Paula Jennings receiving the High Commendation Award for Social Enterprise of the Year.

Stepping Stones has been given Highly Commended at the 2015 Northern Ireland ocial Enterprise Awards, that were held recently.

Lisburn charity, Stepping Stones NI, which was established in 1996 for adults with learning difficulties/disabilities the opportunity to access accredited training. It has been awarded two high commendations at the 2015 Social Enterprise NI Awards.

The charity operates six businesses which serve as a training facility for clients with all profits reinvested. It has two coffee shops, a wedding stationery business and a Guild Commended Picture Framing business in Lisburn, with a recent expansion of services has now taken the award winning service to Downpatrick and Newtownards.

The charity secured high commendations for Social Enterprise of the Year and Best Health and Social Care Social Enterprise.

Stepping Stones NI has over 16 years of experience of running social enterprises which support adults with a learning disability or difficulty to gain training and employment.

Stepping Stones NI have replicated their supported employment model in these areas by launching The Garden Café in Downpatrick and The Gatelodge Café in Newtownards.

Stepping Stones NI now employs over sixty staff and has one hundred and seventy clients accessing their services with the expansion. The new social enterprises are supported through the European Social Fund and the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust.

Chief Officer of Stepping Stones NI, Paula Jennings, comments on the awards “We are delighted to have secured high commendations for Social Enterprise of the Year and Best Health & Social Care Social Enterprise for 2015. We have a fantastic team of people who are passionate about ensuring our trainees reach their fullest potential

and these awards are testament to their effort”.

Commenting on the annual Social Enterprise awards and Stepping Stones NI success, Director of Social Enterprise NI, Juliet Cornford, said “The judges were hugely impressed with the impact, reputation and positive feedback of Stepping Stones NI. They have a great track record and are expanding services in a tough economic climate. The Stepping Stones NI model has proven over the years as extremely effective at supporting people into employment. “The quality of applications was outstanding this year and to achieve a highly commended in the categories for

Social Enterprise of the Year and Best Health & Social Care Awards is no small achievement”.

Stepping Stones NI was established in 1996 to provide adults with learning difficulties / disabilities with the opportunity to access accredited training towards gaining employment.

The company is comprised of local business people and parents and carers of people with learning difficulties /disabilities.

The organisation opened its doors in January 1998 as community business, providing a realistic working environment for adults with learning difficulties/ disabilities to avail of vocational training leading to employment.