Stepping Stones NI, has scooped two top awards at the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Business Awards 2016. The charity secured the award for ‘Best Social Enterprise Business’ and its Chief Officer, Paula Jennings, received the top award for ‘Business Person of the Year’.
Stepping Stones NI has over 18 years of experience of running social enterprises which support adults with a learning disability or difficulty to gain training and employment. The awards announced at a gala event in the La Mon Hotel & Country Club attended First Minister, Arlene Foster and three hundred and sixty business people.
Stepping Stones NI operates six businesses which serve as a training facility for adults with learning disabilities / difficulties with all profits reinvested. With two coffee shops, a wedding stationery business and a Guild Commended Picture Framing business in Lisburn, a recent expansion of services has now taken our award winning service to Downpatrick and Newtownards. Stepping Stones NI have replicated our supported employment model in these areas by launching The Garden Café at the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick and The Gatelodge Café on Church Street in Newtownards.
Stepping Stones NI now employs over sixty staff and has one hundred and seventy clients accessing their services with the expansion. The new social enterprises are supported through the European Social Fund and the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust.
Chief Officer of Stepping Stones NI, Paula Jennings, comments on the awards “We are delighted to have secured two top awards at the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Business Awards 2016. 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. I am also extremely humbled to be recognised as business person of the year”.
Stepping Stones NI clients are supported by a team of job coaches and employment officers to provide the skills and qualifications to secure voluntary and paid work. The organisation has developed partnerships with over one hundred employers across Northern Ireland through its training and employment division with one hundred and thirty people supported into employment and ninety thousand pounds in earned wages last year.