Stepping Stones NI, has scooped two top awards in one week for outstanding achievement in social enterprise development and its youth service.

The charitable organisation secured a ‘High Commendation’ for Social Enterprise of the Year at the 2016 Social Enterprise NI Awards with their youth service team securing the national Grow Wild award for ‘Best Transform a Space’ at a prestigious event in Kew, London.

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 charity operates six businesses which serve as a training facility for adults with learning disabilities / difficulties with all profits reinvested.

The charitable organisation beat stiff competition at both events to secure the awards. The high commendation award for social enterprise of the year from SENI was granted in recognition of its rapid growth and expansion over the last twelve months with the organisation doubling in size.

The Youth Service team were delighted to take home the Grow Wild award for best ‘Transform a Space’ youth project beating a long list of projects from around the United Kingdom. The judges awarded the Stepping Stones NI Youth Service team for their work on ‘The Recovery Café’ garden in Dromore. A team of young people with a learning disability / difficulty transformed a disused space into a garden for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.

Jamie McCutcheon from the Youth Service team comments on the award “Thanks to Grow Wild, the young people have gained in confidence and skills whilst delivering a fun project bringing their community together and transformed a brilliant space right in the heart of Dromore”.

Chief Officer of Stepping Stones NI, Paula Jennings is delighted with the wins “These awards recognise the passion and dedication of our staff who turn our vision into a reality supporting our clients to realise their potential for a better future”.

Stepping Stones NI now employs over sixty staff and has two hundred and forty plus clients accessing their services in Lisburn, Newtownards and Downpatrick areas. Clients are supported by a team of mentors, job coaches and employment officers to provide the experiences, skills and qualifications to secure voluntary and paid work. The organisation has developed partnerships with over one hundred organisations across Northern Ireland through its transitions, you training and employment division with one hundred and thirty people supported into employment last year.


Stepping Stones NI Chief Officer, Paula Jennings and Marketing & Business Development Manager, Ciara Brennan receiveing the Social Enterprise of the Year 2016 – High Commendation Award