Derry-based charity, Liberty Consortium @ the Playtrail has secured 4 year funding by The National Lottery Community Fund for Northern Ireland to take their social enterprise opportunities for young people with disabilities too the next stage. They will be opening their very own charity shop within the heart of the community as well as developing their ‘Tea in the Park’ initiative.

The Playtrail employee, Jennie Marshall, was a 2019 Time to Shine Leader initially employed to aide the set up of ‘Tea in the Park‘, a mobile cafe and coffee shop made from a converted horse box.  Tea in the Park provides meaningful work placement opportunities for young people with disabilities to their build confidence, help develop new skills and increase their independence. Within the new Project ‘Ready, Steady Go’, Jennie has secured a 4 year role which will see her continuing with Tea in the Park, whilst also moving to the new Charity shop in order to support young people and assist in growing the social enterprise and placing Liberty Consortium on the high street.

Jennie and her Tea in the Park colleague

When we asked Jennie about how the Time to Shine programme affected her journey, she said “Time to Shine has played a major role in helping shape the career that I always wanted to do. Being a Time to Shine Leader in 2019 has not only provided me with a number of different opportunities but has also pushed me to do things I never thought I could or would do i.e. public speaking or setting up a social enterprise. It has enabled me to grow as a person, learn new things and improve on a number of different skills. What stands out to me the most about being a Time to Shine leader is the support & encouragement I received from not only The Rank Foundation themselves and The Playtrail but also all the other organisations involved.

Jennie’s manager, Gavin Melly, credits the initial Rank Foundation investment in the Tea in the Park programme back in 2019 with the success of their recent application to The National Lottery Community Fund. Gavin said “We are extremely excited for our new venture, being able to grow on our social enterprise,providing much more meaningful work opportunities for young people with disabilities whilst placing inclusion at the heart of the community.

Amazingly, The Playtrail has been able to secure funding in order for Jennie to undertake a postgraduate Course in Ulster University in Community Youth Work. Jennie has completed her first year and has 8 months left on her new course. Jennie and Gavin are delighted as Jennie has been able to undertake this course, providing her with the professional qualification and all fees being paid for.

A final comment from Gavin, “we would like to thank the Foundation for supporting us back in 2018/2019 within the Time to Shine programme, it really has provided us with the foundations to grow our social enterprise opportunities, and create an amazing learning experience for Jennie and our wider team.”

We would like to wish The Playtrail success in the expansion of their programmes and we would encourage the network to get in touch with them for more information.

Twitter: @ThePlaytrail