Top award for Stepping Stones

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.

Lisburn charity Stepping Stones has been given two high commendations at the 2015 Northern Ireland Social Enterprise Awards held recently.

Stepping Stones NI, was established in 1996 for adults with learning difficulties/disabilities to have the opportunity to access accredited training.

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, and has recently expanded services to Downpatrick and Newtownards.

Chief Officer of Stepping Stones NI, Paula Jennings, said, “We are delighted to have secured high commendations for Social Enterprise of the Year and Best Health and 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”.

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

Stepping Stones employs over sixty staff and has 170 clients accessing their services. The new social enterprises are supported through the European Social Fund and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

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 is no small achievement”.