Unemployed duo pressed ahead with dream
One of the major problems facing many young people today – unemployment – is directly addressed by social enterprises. Two Co Down unemployed youths found themselves starting their their own social enterprise when they struggled to find work after graduating.
In 2012, Simon Black and Ryan O'Rourke had graduated from university, Simon with an MA in journalism and Ryan with a BA (Hons) in film studies.
Coming out to a very bleak job market, especially in the creative industries, the graduates turned to self-employment by providing video content at a low cost to charities and community groups in their area.
The experience enabled them to build on their skills and gain confidence in delivering a product, and eventually they found the courage to start a business focused on both training media graduates and providing content for clients. With the help of Stephen McClelland, senior social enterprise advisor at the Newry and Mourne Co-operative Enterprise Agency, the boys created a full business plan which helped get them on to the InvestNI Social Enterprise Programme in March 2013.
Now the company, named SlackPress, employs two full-time and two part-time staff members. The team provide valuable experience and training for students, graduates and the unemployed, while simultaneously supporting charities and social enterprises by providing professional media content at affordable prices.
"We've been blown away by the amount of support we have had and it's been a great experience to help our community while supporting our own employability and others" said Ryan.
"While cash flow can be tight at times, we've had great support from the social enterprise community – we haven't had to buy a single desk or chair as donations have flowed in. In return, we help communities get quality media exposure at cut-down prices."
"Many of us find ourselves stuck in the no job/no experience vacuum and it was painful to get rejected from so many dream jobs" added Simon. "So instead of getting down and out about the job market, we decided to attack it pro-actively."