Social Innovation Fund Ireland announces winners of €500,000 Resilient Communities Fund

Published 20 September 2018.

Minister of State Seán Kyne, T.D today announced the winners of the €500,000 Resilient Communities Fund at the National Ploughing Championships.

The fund was set up to provide grants and supports to innovative projects that strengthen community resilience and have a social, environmental or economic impact. The €500,000 fund, created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland, is supported by Tomar Trust and the Department of Rural and Community Development from the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Chosen from over 90 applicants from across the country, six awardees have won grants of between €10,000 and €100,000, as well as a place on Social Innovation Fund’s Accelerator, a programme designed to help local projects grow and develop into powerful community solutions through ongoing support and advice.

The awardees are:

  • Volunteer Doctors (in the Community), a network of over 200 volunteer doctors who can provide professional A&E care directly to the site of life-threatening emergencies throughout Ireland, with particular impact in rural and disadvantaged urban areas;
  • The Cottage Market, a nationwide community markets initiative which puts ‘homemade, homegrown and handcrafted’ products back in the heart of communities, promotes vibrant rural life and supports the development of grass roots enterprises;
  • AgeWell, which uses peer-based social engagement and mobile technology to enable and empower older people to age well in their home for as long as possible;
  • Irish Men’s Sheds Association, which supports and promotes the development of Men’s Sheds in Ireland – community-based organisations providing a safe, friendly and inclusive environment to men;
  • Cloughjordan Community Farm Food Resilience Project, which aims to educate local families in the Cloughjordan Community on the benefits of eating ethically produced, chemical-free food grown on their doorstep; and
  • Terenure Sustainable Energy Community, a group of volunteers dedicated to mobilising the community to retrofit their houses and generate their own renewable energy.

Announcing the 2018 Resilient Communities Awardees today, Seán Kyne, T.D, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, said: ‘’Yesterday’s storm was another reminder of the importance of community resilience across the country. The weather we’ve been having over the past couple of days is just one example of the importance of community resilience.

“I’d like to congratulate the awardees of the Resilient Communities Fund. The awardees are from different parts of the country and are operating in different sectors but each is working to strengthen communities for the benefit of all. The Resilient Communities Fund is the latest example of the effective and productive partnership between Social Innovation Fund Ireland, the Department of Rural and Community Development and philanthropy.

“Social Innovation Fund Ireland funds provide a structured path for philanthropy to join with Government to directly support communities right across Ireland. I wish the awardees well with their transformative initiatives and I know the Social Innovation Fund Ireland Accelerator Programme will help in achieving their aims faster and more effectively.”

Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Social Innovation Fund Ireland, said: “Today’s awardees really stand out as projects that blend innovative thinking and social impact in a way that makes a difference to their local communities. The Resilient Communities Fund will enable these projects to strengthen what they do, raise their profile locally and nationally and look at potential for national impact.”

Emma Lane-Spollen, CEO, Tomar Trust, said: “Community is at the heart of Ireland. We are living in extraordinary times facing significant challenges from the impact of climate change to an ageing population. Yet together, as communities across Ireland, we work daily to find solutions. The Tomar Trust is delighted to make these awards. By valuing the people that make our communities great we encourage them to keep at it, keep inspiring us, challenging us and engaging us. These six awardees deserve all our support to grow and share the solutions with other communities.”

For more information on the Resilient Communities Fund, please visit:


Note to editors:

About Social Innovation Fund Ireland:

Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s purpose is to find and back innovative solutions to critical social issues in Ireland. SIFI is a charity created by the Government to establish a philanthropic fund of significant size and impact to aid the development of social innovation, working to build the Ireland we all want to live and work in. In partnership with others, SIFI supports innovations that enable healthy, resilient communities, and tackle issues like educational disadvantage and exclusion. SIFI backs social innovators to sustain them, scale them and maximise their impact. Board members include: Terence O’Rourke (Chair), John Higgins, Caitriona Fottrell, Shane Deasy, Dalton Philips, Alf Smiddy, and Barbara McCarthy.

About Tomar Trust:

The Tomar Trust is based in Cork and has a history of providing meaningful philanthropic support to a variety of intersecting community needs; from education to poverty relief to older people and to the advancement of arts and culture. The Trust has recently entered into a new ten year phase during which it will focus on fewer strategic priorities delivering social benefit locally whilst also influencing on a national scale.

About the Department of Rural and Community Development

The Department of Rural and Community Development was established on 19th July 2017 to provide a renewed and consolidated focus on rural and community development in Ireland. The consolidation into a new Department of both policy and supports in respect of community and rural development provides the means for a greater focus on creating vibrant and sustainable communities. The Department also has responsibility for ensuring arrangements for strong oversight of the charities sector through facilitating the charities regulatory authority in carrying-out its independent statutory role.

2018 Resilient Communities Awardees

Volunteer Doctors (in the Community)

Irish Community Rapid Response

Grant Size: €65,000

(€48,000 cash / €17,000 business supports)

Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) is a charity delivering professional A&E care directly to the site of life-threatening emergencies throughout Ireland, with particular impact in rural and disadvantaged urban areas. Since 2008, ICRR has developed a network of over 200 volunteer doctors throughout Ireland who can be called on to respond to critical emergencies. All medical interventions are delivered within the ‘golden hour’ – the time period where prompt medical treatment has the highest chance of preventing serious injury or death.

The Cottage Market


Grant Size: €80,000

(€60,000 cash / €20,000 business supports)

GIY (Grow It Yourself), is a not for profit social enterprise which aims to transform the nation’s health, strengthen communities and protect the environment by empowering people to grow their own food. In 2014, Karen O’Donohoe, Head of Community Development at GIY, developed the Cottage Market in her home-town of Ladysbridge, which has since grown into a nationwide community markets initiative. The GIY Cottage Market offers a fresh, vibrant and inclusive approach to community development by putting homegrown, homemade and handcrafted products back in the heart of communities. It helps communities develop from the inside out so that each village/town creates a market that reflects the diverse skills and interests of its local people.


Third Age

Grant Size: €100,000

(€75,000 cash / €25,000 business supports)

Third Age is a national organisation in Ireland promoting the health and well-being of older people. Their latest programme, AgeWell, is dedicated to supporting older people age at home. Given the choice, older people wish to live in their own home for as long as possible – AgeWell makes this happen. By combining peer-based social engagement with mobile technology, AgeWell improves health outcomes and well-being among older people, as well as their contribution to their local communities.

Irish Men’s Sheds Association

Grant Size: €80,000

(€60,000 cash / €20,000 business supports)

The Irish Men’s Sheds Association was set up to support and promote the development of Men’s Sheds in Ireland. A Men’s Shed is any community-based, non-commercial organisation which is open to all men to provide a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where the men are able to gather and/or work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of other men. The primary objective is to advance the health and well-being of the participating men. Men’s Sheds may look like a shed in your backyard but they innovatively share some characteristics of both community education and health promotion projects.

Cloughjordan Community Farm Food Resilience Project

Cloughjordan Ecovillage

Grant Size: €65,000

(€48,000 cash / €17,000 business supports)

Cloughjordan Community Farm, based in Cloughjordan Ecovillage, North Tipperary is an award-winning, innovative ecological community embodying the transition to a lower carbon energy society. Run by an educational charity, Cloughjordan Ecovillage aims to be a living, instructive model for eco-friendly transformation throughout the world and is run by subscriptions from the local families who make up its members. Cloughjordan Community Farm’s Food Resilience Project operates under a licence specifically aims to educate local families on the benefits of eating ethically produced, chemical free food grown on their doorstep. It aims to strengthen and enhance the relationship of local people to their food and to supply practical examples of growing methods, seed saving methods and seasonal eating, aspects of which can be learned and adapted by any urban or rural community.

Terenure Sustainable Energy Community

I Love Terenure

Grant Size: €10,000

(€10,000 business supports)

Terenure Sustainable Energy Community (TSEC) was founded in 2016 as the first of over one hundred Sustainable Energy Communities (SECs) in Ireland promoted by the SEAI to encourage communities to work together to develop a sustainable energy system. TSEC consists of a small group of volunteers, organised under the community umbrella group, ‘I love Terenure’, dedicated to mobilising the community to undertake the journey to a decarbonised future by retrofitting their houses and generating their own renewable energy. Its vision is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.