Sunday 23 July 2017

Varadkar gets his leadership haircut as he promotes back to work scheme

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar gets his hair styled by salon owner Robert Giffney at the launch of the Back to Work Enterprise Scheme at Him Barber Shop in Glasnevin.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar gets his hair styled by salon owner Robert Giffney at the launch of the Back to Work Enterprise Scheme at Him Barber Shop in Glasnevin. Photo: Tony Gavin
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Dublin barber Robert Giffney got a chance to keep Leo Varadkar well groomed for the Fine Gael leadership race when the man of the moment dropped in on Friday.

The Social Protection minister used the opportunity to confirm that he is to throw his hat in the ring to replace Enda Kenny when he steps aside, following on from an earlier radio interview saying that he would put himself forward for the new job.

It was the topic of jobs that brought Leo and Robert together in fact, because Leo was there to promote the Back To Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme (BTWEA) that helped Robert get his barber shop up and running.

The scheme helps people who are unemployed or claiming welfare to set up their own business and continue receiving State income supports for two years, while getting advice and support for running a new business.

“Three years ago I was working part time as a barber but couldn't get full time work, and I wanted to run my own place but didn't know how,” Robert said.

“I was nervous. I wanted to do something for myself, but setting up on your own is a lonely place to be," he added.

“But then I heard about the BTWEA and how it works with the Inner City Enterprise, and it has just been a fantastic help.

“I had some financial security while starting up, and got great advice on building a business. The Inner City Enterprise was a great crutch. It just felt good to have somebody in your corner willing you on,” Robert (32) explained.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar cuts the hair of salon owner Robert Giffney at the launch of the Back to Work Enterprise Scheme at Him Barber Shop in Glasnevin.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar cuts the hair of salon owner Robert Giffney at the launch of the Back to Work Enterprise Scheme at Him Barber Shop in Glasnevin. Photo: Tony Gavin

The end result was HIM Barbershop on Mobhi Road in Glasnevin, which has now been open for three years.

“I'm employing two other barbers here now, so I have gone from looking for a job to creating a job for two other lads, and if it continues to go well I hope to open another shop,” he said.

Minister Varadkar said people who avail of the scheme are twice as likely to be off the live register after six months than non-participants.

“This programme allows you to retain your weekly welfare payments while starting your own business. If you’re unemployed, a one-parent family, claiming Disability Allowance or on a scheme like Farm Assist, the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance gives you ongoing financial support as well as expert advice,” he said.

Also at the event was Holly Perreira (35), an illustrator and animator based in Dublin. She set up Hyper Pictures in 2015, where she works on a wide variety of projects, ranging from murals to editorial illustration, traditional sign painting to animation for music videos.

“I had ideas for a creative business but I had no corporate knowledge. Working with the scheme bridged that gap for me. I got to learn about the accounting and PR side of things. I couldn't have got up and running without it,” she said.

The third participant was Eoin Kernan from Dublin's northside. He is the founder and creative producer behind Slick, a leading commercial and corporate film production company. Slick develops and produces digital content for organisations to promote their brand.

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