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Social Enterpreneurs Ireland Awards

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards began in 2004 and the Programme works to identify individuals or partnerships with an innovative idea for addressing a social problem or issue in Ireland and who take an entrepreneurial approach to making the change happen.

We meet one of the winners of the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards Mary Desmond Vessaghi and the CEO of the awards, Sean Coughlan, to tell us their story.
As of January 2009, awards have been made to 116 social entrepreneurs, investing over €2.8 million in these individuals and the organisations they launch.

The social Entrepreneurs Ireland award are taking place in Gardiner street Dublin on Monday 19th of October and we are talking to one of the winners, Mary Desmond Vessaghi and the CEO of the awards, Sean Coughlan.

Award Winner: Mary Desmond Vessaghi - Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young Support Group

Fighting for a Heart Safe Ireland
In May 2005 Darius Vasseghi, aged 18, dropped dead on the bathroom floor when his heart stopped suddenly and without warning. He died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. He appeared to be a fit and healthy young man, had undergone annual checkups but no specific heart check. Mary, his mother, discovered that, on average, two young people under the age of 35 die every week in Ireland from Sudden Cardiac Death, causing immeasurable devastation to families and communities. However, she also discovered that many conditions leading to Sudden Cardiac Death can be diagnosed and treated. Mary set up the Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young support group in 2006 to support affected families and effect change. Support is provided through an informal network offering information on Sudden Cardiac Death, as well as providing direction to formal bereavement support and family screening centres. Through her work on this issue, Mary realised more could be done and committed to reducing the risk of Sudden Cardiac Death in the young by developing a high quality, affordable Heart Check system in Ireland. Based on international models, where screening has reduced Sudden Cardiac Death by 89%, she now aim to expand the support group to facilitate preventive screening and is advocating for defibrillator placement and specialist CPR training nationwide.

Sean Coughlan, Chief Executive of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
Sean is here to tell us about the awards, which support people who are working for public and social benefit, rather than to make money.

Mary Desmond Vessaghi has set up up the Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young support group


Benefits of winning the award?

For level 2 which Mary is receiving, she will get 80,000 over a two year period. Her skills will be developed and she will get mentors and receive training and a strategy will be developed for her.

After the two year, Mary will have a set of goals to achieve which will be agreed upon by the Social Entrepreneur Award committee. The aim is that Mary will have progressed, and then other people might be interested in her project and see the value of it and then support her. Even with really good ideas, it can be hard for people to get interested in them, and this is how we hope to help out Mary.

What factors did Mary have to make her a winner?

Two things really. Firstly, the idea. Mary is very powerful when she speaks about this, and also how she uses her experience. She took something that happened in her life, a tragedy and turned it into something really positive.

On a Second level, we see lots of good ideas but is it the right person. In Mary she had the ability, and we saw something special, she could actually make this happen. this is not the case in other applications that we receive.

How many applications was there this year?
This year, we had 83 applications and there were 8 awards. And is supposes that it is 1 in 10 people that make the bar, so the standard is quite high

How long has the award been taking place?

We started in 2004 and in that short space of time, we have given out 3.44 million to people and we have now supported 142 social entrepreneurs around the country and it has been a huge success..

Can people be nominated, or can they just nominate themselves?
They can be nominated by a work colleague or a friend, but we also like to know that the person is aware themselves, because we are going to be contacting them later during the process to interview them etc.