News and Events
The Mansion House, Dublin – October 13th, 2015. U-Casadh were awarded the most sought-after prize in Irish Social Enterprise - the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) Impact award. The award includes €140,000 in cash, as well as expertise from some of the finest minds in the Irish business world. The venue was full to capacity as U-Casadh CEO, Stephen Plunkett, received his award from renowned Irish entrepreneur, Norah Casey, who excelled in her MC duties on the night. To make the moment even sweeter, U-Casadh had been commissioned by SEI to create the hand-crafted, slate and timber trophies which were presented to all 9 awardees on the night. Three organisations (U-Casadh, Nurture and Pro-Social Driving) received the Impact-level award, while 6 organisations received the Elevator award, which includes €30,000 in cash.
Stephen Plunkett, in his acceptance speech, thanked the Department of Social Protection and the Probation Service for their ongoing support of the project. He went on to speak about the average cost of keeping a person in prison for a year being a minimum of €65,000 and stated: "this isn't just a social injustice - it's a terrible business plan". He also stated that U-Casadh has "more than halved the re-offending rate" among its service-users. "Encouragement and belief, occupation and purpose" are the core beliefs at U-Casadh, while the "mantra", according to Stephen, is simple: "you can be whatever you want to be".
Stephen Plunkett is a former prison-officer who left the prison service in an effort to provide a community-based support that would prevent so many of the same people coming back through the ‘revolving doors’ of the jails. He founded the U-Casadh Project in 2008 with the support of Waterford Area Partnership. U-Casadh means 'U-Turn', from the Irish word 'Casadh' - to twist or turn. The project is a registered charity which aims to: “be a catalyst for change in attitudes to crime, social exclusion, rehabilitation and justice”. The project has a 3-phase approach to supporting its service-users. Firstly, stabilisation around self-destructive behaviours, as well as supports around accessing fundemental needs, such as housing. Secondly, training/education based on the person’s interests. Thirdly, “occupation with purpose” – which means supporting the person in relation to employment or entrepreneurship.
U-Casadh’s ‘World of Work’ programme, which encapsulates this approach into a scalable (franchisable) model, means that organisations or individuals nationwide who wish to start an U-Casadh in their local area will soon be able to do so, with support from company headquarters in Ferrybank.
In attendance was Kilkenny-based Minister for Social Enterprise & Rural Affairs, Ann Phelan, who was delighted to see an organisation representing of the South-East winning one of this year's main awards.
You can view Stephen Plunkett's speech in full, below.