We are delighted to share that Bolster Community has been selected as finalists in four categories at the esteemed Social Enterprise NI Awards 2023. It’s a moment of great pride for us, and it’s an opportunity to reflect on the incredible journey we’ve undertaken.
Our journey is one driven by a commitment to making a positive impact on our community. We provide a diverse range of services and programmes that aim to empower individuals from all walks of life. Whether it’s our ‘Ability’ services such as Bolster Buddies, which helps young adults with learning disabilities find purpose and connection, Autism Connect which offers a safe social hub for young adults with an Autism diagnosis or initiatives like our Go Girl program, which fosters self-awareness and personal growth among young girls – our focus has always been on creating connections and instilling a sense of purpose. Although 2023 has been a hugely challenging Social landscape, we have a lot to be proud of this year.
In April, we celebrated the 22 girls who completed our eight-week Go Girl programme. The programme (delivered in conjunction with Women’s Tec and CTS), explored important topics such as identity, healthy relationships, and body image – and delved into DIY and construction skills (opening up for maybe the first time highly skilled and better paid roles not typically promoted to girls). We’ve heard from parents about the hugely positive impact the programme has had on confidence levels and relationships – and it’s feedback like this that remind us of the real value of our work.
Our other programmes have also been in great demand – e.g. our ‘Parents Plus ADHD’ and ‘Parents Plus Disability’ programmes offer support that is otherwise missing from the Social Care landscape – parents are crying out for help and support and our evidence-based programmes are answering that need. Similarly, our FRIENDS programmes which help build resilience, social and emotional skills in children have been given much praise by the 50+ schools we’ve delivered to so far – and funding challenges aside, we hope to be back delivering all of these invaluable programmes in 2024.
At the heart of Bolster Community is our Family Support services, where our family support team work with families on a 1-2-1 basis – our aim is to help families with early interventions, get them through challenging times and stop situations spiraling. Very often we will then refer the families we support through to our other programmes and services – for example Tots and Tea is a weekly support group for parents or carers of pre-school age children with additional needs all on the first steps of their journey through disability or After The Bell, an after-school club for school age children with disability (and their siblings) that offers respite and support for parents in challenging childcare situations.
At the other end of the age spectrum, we make sure Seniors have a much-needed social outlet in our weekly Clover Club – this club for over 65’s meets weekly at our Marcus St premises and offers social connection with peers and different activities from chair yoga to candle making. The examples above underpin the importance of our Social Enterprise, Acorn – not only does it give our Buddies a place of work, belonging and purpose, the proceeds from every purchase goes towards supplementing our funding and helps us do more.
This year, Acorn, has experienced steady growth. We’re proud to see more retail businesses stocking our products and promoting inclusivity and support for people with mixed abilities. Collaborations with organisations like Naturally North Coast and Glens, The Food Market Newry, Barn Owl Saintfield, and Enniskinn have expanded our reach. We’ve also partnered with Killeavy Castle Estate, Storybox, and WOMEN’STEC to offer custom candle services. As we head into the busy Christmas season, we have exciting product developments and events on the horizon, reflecting our commitment to positive change.
While being named finalists in these categories is a significant achievement, we recognise that our main victory lies in the day-to-day support we provide, the positive impacts we create, and the connections we foster. Our team is at the heart of it all, and without their dedication, the success of our programs wouldn’t be possible.
As we continue our journey, we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve our community and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those we touch. Bolster Community is not just an organisation; it’s a collective effort driven by a shared purpose, and we are excited to see where the path ahead takes us.
Thank you for being a part of our story.
- Team of the Year
- Community Wealth Building
- Best Cross Sector Collaboration
- Social Enterprise of the Year
About Social Enterprise NI Awards
The awards are set to take place in Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast on 27th October 2023 hosted by BBC Radio Presenter, Cate Conway. The awards exist to recognise and celebrate excellence in the social enterprise sector and the outstanding achievements of those organisations, individuals and leaders delivering amazing impact in our local communities.