Belfast Telegraph

Arthur Guinness fund pours £40k into training enterprise

By Clare Weir

A Social enterprise from Co Armagh will receive financial and business support from the 2012 Arthur Guinness Fund, it has been announced.

Step by Step NI, which provides employment training for young adults with learning disabilities and care leavers, will receive €50,000 (£40,000) over the next two years, part of a €700,000 (£560,000) investment from the charity.

The project, run by Alan Brown and Shirley Agnew, is the only Northern Ireland firm among the 10 from all over the island which received recognition this week.

Step by Step works in partnership with the local further education college and through the creation of Restaurant 180 in Portadown and the 180 Tea Room in Armagh, students are provided with training and employment opportunities.

During a two-year programme, Arthur Guinness Fund awardees receive between €50,000 and €100,000 (£80,000) each depending on if they are start-up projects which have been established in the past two years or 'take-off' projects which are at a more advanced stage in their development.

To date, the Arthur Guinness Fund has awarded €1.65m (£1.3m) along with business mentoring to 20 projects across the island of Ireland.

Social entrepreneurs are people who seek to address a specific issue and try to meet the challenges in an innovative and creative way.

The selected projects are committed to making society a better place for everyone.

Since June 2010, Arthur Guinness Fund awardees have had a positive impact on nearly 40,000 people.

A study conducted by Diageo also found that over the past two years, the Arthur Guinness Fund has supported 20 organisations with 85 full-time employees, 136 part-time employees, 34 full-time volunteers and 1,541 part-time volunteers.