Sunday 22 April 2018

Social Innovation will ensure the development of a fairer, stronger Ireland

Ulster Bank YSI
Ulster Bank YSI

Ulster bank announced an exciting new partnership with Young Social Innovators, paving the way for some excellent innovation projects.

Ulster Bank and Young Social Innovators announced a new partnership at an event in the chq building. Over 200 people gathered to hear from a host of speakers including An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD who spoke about the important role that social innovation has to play in developing an economically stronger society.

To launch this new relationship between Ulster Bank and Young Social Innovators, a short video was commissioned, which paints a picture of what this partnership will mean to the 20,000 young people participating in the YSI programme today, and the many more who will benefit from the programme over the coming years. The video features a number of young social innovators discussing what social innovation means to them in conversation with Diana Bunici, who MCd today’s event.

Young Social Innovators is the biggest civic and social innovation programme in Ireland.  Educating and engaging young people in the theory and practice of social innovation whilst challenging them to creatively tackle the social issues facing them locally, nationally and globally.

Through their new relationship, Ulster Bank will provide financial support to YSI and its participants, ensuring that social innovation in Ireland continues to be fostered from a young age. A record breaking 444 innovation projects have been entered into this year’s Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards by over 6,500 students nationwide, an increase of 8% from 2015. Across its programmes, YSI is currently accessed by approximately one in ten students throughout Ireland whilst it works to grow its interest and activities in Northern Ireland, Canada and Zambia.

The initiative challenges young people to work within their communities to identify areas of social need and to come up with and implement solutions for positive social change. The teams pitching at this year’s YSI Den addressed a range of social issues including mental health, nutrition, homophobia, road safety and addiction.

“By engaging our young people in programmes such as Young Social Innovators we are not only creating more caring and engaged citizens but those with the skills to tackle the very serious issues facing us at local, national and global levels. I would like to see all young people in Ireland given the opportunity to participate.” said Enda Kenny, addressing guests at the event

Also speaking at the event, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, co-founder of Young Social Innovators, called on companies not to forget their social responsibilities as they focus their energies on innovation for economic growth. 

Ulster Bank YSI candidate
Ulster Bank YSI candidate

Since it was founded in 2001, over 4,500 youth-led teams have created projects with the support of YSI, many of which have had a lasting impact in their communities and beyond.  Previous projects include the ‘Forget Me Not’ campaign, developed by students from Davis College, Mallow in 2011/2012.  This awareness campaign for missing people led to the creation of the National Missing Persons Day which first took place in December 2013 and is now an annual event to raise awareness of people who are still missing and encourage support for them and their families.

Ulster Bank is also committed to providing participants with access to support for their projects, many of which have the potential to be developed into a social enterprise and sustainable business. One such example, Greener Globe, was conceived by a team of students from Tullamore College in Co. Offaly.  They patented their energy free Aquacica showerhead which uses a traffic light system to encourage users to reduce the length of time they spend in the shower, from an average of eleven minutes to seven minutes, therefore leading to reductions in water use and energy costs. 

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