Added on 14/06/2013
Dublin and Glendlaough’s Graham Jones has been announced as one of eight finalists in the 2013 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards. Graham, who is chairman of the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Social Action Group and runs the Solas Project along with Salla Heron in Dublin’s inner city, is now in with a chance to win up to €200,000 worth of funding and support for Solas’s prison and probation programme. The programme for young offenders is just one of the strands of Solas Project, which is supported by the dioceses through the Social Action Group.
Details of the finalists were announced by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland on Thursday 13 June. The awards celebrate and support Ireland’s brightest and most ambitions entrepreneurs with game changing ideas to solve the social problems facing Ireland.
Each of the eight social entrepreneurs head young organisations that are employing innovative approaches to help make major social change in Ireland in areas as diverse as healthcare, local emergency services, unemployment, charity fundraising, the children’s care system and the prison and probation system.
The finalists are: John Evoy of Irish Men’s Sheds Association, Krystian Fikert of MyMind, Natasha and Toby Haslam Hopwood of The Galtee Clinic, Peter Johnson of Jobnet, John Kearney of Irish Community Rapid Response, Brian McCormick of Adtruism and Mags Mullarney of Move4Parkinson’s.
The finalists will now embark upon a three month programme of support and evaluation, designed to help them to clearly define the problem they are trying to address and refine their solution. They will receive in depth support and professional consultation before the announcement of the 2013 Award winners in October. Three Social Entrepreneurs will be awarded the top level “Impact Award” and €130,000 in direct funding with over €70,000 worth of support over two years. A further five will receive the “Elevator Award” and €22,000 in direct funding with over €10,000 worth of support over one year.
Graham said that being shortlisted has presented Solas Project with great possibilities already. “It’s an amazing opportunity and I am unbelievably honoured and humbled to have been selected… It is creating awareness and the additional professional support and financial assistance we are receiving already is fantastic,” he commented.
“Reducing the likelihood of reoffending through pre and post–release support” is the aim of the Soles Project’s prison and post–release programme. As a criminal defence solicitor, Graham had the opportunity to meet many young people caught up in crime. Despite their different stories, Graham noticed a common trait that they all shared – wasted potential due to a lack of direction, support and ambition. He set about to fundamentally change how this group of people saw themselves, empowering them to dictate their own future.
The Solas Project Prison and Probation Programme (solasproject.ie) was established to help young offenders make real and long–lasting change to their lives after release. Through mentoring and skills building, Solas Project helps participants to develop self–awareness and encourages personal responsibility, both of which dramatically reduce the likelihood of reoffending in the process.
Using a five–step programme, engagement commences in prison six months prior to the end of an inmate’s sentence through a series of meaningful activities including aquaponics, tag rugby and music production using laptops. Support continues right through until eighteen months after release. Participation in the programme is entirely voluntary and is targeted at 16 to 25 year olds. Solas Project intervenes early and helps those who are willing to turn their lives around, ensuring that these young people can begin to contribute to society and to ultimately fulfil their true potential.
Over the last seven years SEI has supported 161 social entrepreneurs, investing €4.9 million in their projects, and provided significant additional supports. These in turn have directly impacted over 200,000 people across Ireland and created over 800 employment opportunities in the process.
For further information please contact:
Diocesan Communications Officer
Dublin & Glendalough