Our trainee, Jamesy O’Neill, did us proud when he was invited to bake for Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Kris Hopkins, at Stormont House recently.
Jamesy was invited to showcase his baking skills after Minister Hopkins visited us a few months ago to see the impact of their work. He was so impressed with Jamesy that he invited him to visit and bake his special scone recipe at the Stormont House kitchen followed by tea and a catch up with the Minister afterwards.
Northern Ireland Office Chef Martin Nelson was really impressed with Jamesy’s baking and said: “Jamesy’s scones were even better than mine”.
Minister Hopkins sampled Jamesy’s baking over tea with Jamesy and said: “On a recent visit to Stepping Stones, I met Jamesy O’Neill who is a trainee barista at their site in Lisburn and invited him to come to Stormont House and spend the morning working with our chef, Martin Nelson, making scones. The scones were absolutely delicious and I was extremely impressed with Jamesy’s skills and the work that Stepping Stones does to support people with learning disabilities and learning difficulties”.
Jamesy has been supported by Stepping Stones NI to develop new skills in catering and hospitality and to get a paid job. He says “Stepping Stones NI has helped me loads and they have given me more strength as well as helping me get a job”.
The organisation is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy.
Each year we support around 250 people though our services with links to over 400 employers. We support our clients to gain training, work placements and paid jobs.
Our Chief Officer Paula Jennings said: “Stepping Stones NI’s support extends beyond training and employment; we see confidence and self-esteem growing, new friendships forming and a new independence for the people that we support. The impact of this is then felt by families and employers who see the real benefit of employing a person with a learning disability or learning difficulty”.
We have launched a new campaign targeted at people with learning difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorder to get paid jobs.
Our campaign will feature on billboards, buses and in shopping centres across Lisburn, Downpatrick and Newtownards in March and April 2017.
Stepping Stones NI have been supporting people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities to find work and stay in work for almost 20 years. We know that with the right support you can develop the confidence and skills to secure a paid job that you enjoy.
Our team of skilled Job Coaches and Employment Officers will work with you at your own pace. We will support you to identify jobs you may be interested in and form a plan to overcome any barriers to get a paid job. We will support you to complete job applications, prepare for interview as well as on the job support so that you can ease into your new role. Your dedicated Employment Officer will also support your employer to help you integrate fully into the workplace and to understand your needs.
We support hundreds of people every year to realise their potential for a better future. Our team are skilled at finding ways to overcome barriers and we will support you on your pathway to employment even if you have complex needs.
We see everyone’s potential to develop and enter or re-enter the work of work, we see learning difficulties differently.
Contact our Employment Service team today on 028 9266 6404 or email email@example.com to get support that suits you.
The entire staff team of Stepping Stones NI got together recently to celebrate success over the past 12 months and plan for the future. With over 60 staff in the room we had some great ideas flowing and fantastic facilitation from Mr David Meade and his ‘mentalism’, the talented Michael Cole, Manager ta Hadskis/James St South and business strategy expert Maurica Mackle.
Staff voted in various categories for their team mates and it was great to see the efforts of our staff recognised through our period of rapid growth.
We look forward to entering 2017 with innovation and creativity #greatplacetowork
Michael Cole, Manager of Hadskis delivering his ‘Excellence in Hospitality’ masterclass to our catering and hospitality staff.
David Meade putting our newest member of staff Colm in the ‘mind reading’ spotlight!
The entire staff team at Stepping Stones NI got together on Monday 28 November to celebrate our success over the last 12 months and look to the future. We had a great day from staff recognition awards to Mr David Meade and his ‘mentalism’ with masterclasses from industry experts such as the fabulous Michael Cole, Manager at Hadskis/James St South and Maurica Mackle from Mackle Communications.
With 60+ staff in the room we had a lot of great ideas coming forward about how we can continuously improve and excel in our services and social enterprises. We are looking forward to entering 2017 with innovation and creativity! #greatplacetowork
Stepping Stones NI, has scooped two top awards in one week for outstanding achievement in social enterprise development and its youth service. The charitable organisation secured a ‘High Commendation’ for Social Enterprise of the Year at the 2016 Social Enterprise NI Awards with their youth service team securing the national Grow Wild award for ‘Best Transform a Space’ at a prestigious event in Kew, London.
Stepping Stones NI has over 18 years of experience of running social enterprises which support adults with a learning disability or difficulty to gain training and employment. The charity operates six businesses which serve as a training facility for adults with learning disabilities / difficulties with all profits reinvested.
The charitable organisation beat stiff competition at both events to secure the awards. The high commendation award for social enterprise of the year from SENI was granted in recognition of its rapid growth and expansion over the last twelve months with the organisation doubling in size.
The Youth Service team were delighted to take home the Grow Wild award for best ‘Transform a Space’ youth project beating a long list of projects from around the United Kingdom. The judges awarded the Stepping Stones NI Youth Service team for their work on ‘The Recovery Café’ garden in Dromore. A team of young people with a learning disability / difficulty transformed a disused space into a garden for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.
Jamie McCutcheon from the Youth Service team comments on the award “Thanks to Grow Wild, the young people have gained in confidence and skills whilst delivering a fun project bringing their community together and transformed a brilliant space right in the heart of Dromore”.
Chief Officer of Stepping Stones NI, Paula Jennings is delighted with the wins “These awards recognise the passion and dedication of our staff who turn our vision into a reality supporting our clients to realise their potential for a better future”.
Stepping Stones NI now employs over sixty staff and has two hundred and forty plus clients accessing their services in Lisburn, Newtownards and Downpatrick areas. Clients are supported by a team of mentors, job coaches and employment officers to provide the experiences, skills and qualifications to secure voluntary and paid work. The organisation has developed partnerships with over one hundred organisations across Northern Ireland through its transitions, you training and employment division with one hundred and thirty people supported into employment last year.
Stepping Stones NI Chief Officer, Paula Jennings and Marketing & Business Development Manager, Ciara Brennan receiveing the Social Enterprise of the Year 2016 – High Commendation Award
The Courtyard Cafe at Stepping Stones NI headquarters on Seymour Street , Lisburn have teamed up top chef Paula McIntyre to bring unique bistro evenings to Lisburn. Paula is the new champion of the Courtyard Cafe and hugely supportive of the work of Stepping Stones NI. She helped to launch the new brand of the cafe with a cookery demonstration to a packed audience and today announces the first bistro night at the Courtyard Cafe on Thursday 8 December 2016.
Bookings have opened up for ‘An Evening with Paula McIntyre’ at the Courtyard Cafe. The event will feature a four course meal with live entertainment. Diners can also bring their own bottle and enjoy a delicious meal in the converted courtyard barn. Profits from the event will support the work of Stepping Stones NI.
Paula, who has a weekly cookery feature on Radio Ulster’s ‘Saturday Magazine’ with John Toal is also Director of Slow Food NI. Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
Slow food NI is a not–for–profit organisation seeking to promote a better way to eat, celebrating the rich food traditions of the different nations that make up the UK, and protecting our edible biodiversity. The organisation engages members of the public, food producers, chefs, businesses, academics and a global network, spreading and enacting its philosophies internationally and locally.
The Courtyard Cafe bistro night aims to bring a unique dining experience to Lisburn creating a vibrancy in support of the evening economy in the city.
THIS EVEN IS NOW SOLD OUT! Further events will run in 2017. Watch this space!
ENQUIRIES FOR FUTURE EVENTS: Ciara Brennan, Marketing & Business Development Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org / 028 9266 7124.
Stepping Stones NI have revealed the new branding for the relaunch of its much loved coffee shop on Seymour Street in Lisburn. The coffee shop will see a relaunch in September 2016 with the new name ‘Courtyard Cafe’. With a new look, menu and touch of sparkle the Courtyard Cafe will launch offering customers a delicious new range of food using the finest local ingredients.
The new name was chosen since the cafe boasts a spacious outdoor courtyard for those who like to dine al fresco. Housed in a renovated stone barn, the cafe is a bit of hidden gem in Lisburn.
Customers can enter through the arched pathway on Seymour Street or through the Wallace Avenue entrance to reveal a bright, historic and cosy space.
The new menu will launch Monday 12 September with an event involving top chef Paula McIntyre who has helped to inspire the menu. Paula will put on a cookery demonstration with samples of the new food for guests to taste.
Updates on social media as we build up to our exciting new take on our social enterprise.
Food lovers will be delighted to hear that Lisburn will be getting an exciting new café and evening bistro which will launch at the beginning of September.
Award winning charitable organisation, Stepping Stones NI have teamed up with chef Paula McIntyre to offer Lisburn food lovers a new offering. The Courtyard Café will launch with a new menu packed full of flavour using the finest local ingredients. McIntyre has worked closely with the staff at Stepping Stones NI to inspire a new menu for Lisburn diners.
Delicious new menu coming soon from the Courtyard Cafe
With a huge following of food lovers, McIntyre hosts the cooking slot on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Saturday Magazine’ with John Toal. She trained in Culinary Arts at the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, USA, and returned to the UK in 1993 to open her own restaurant in Manchester. Returning to Northern Ireland in 1998, Paula worked as Head Chef in several establishments including Ghan House in Carlingford and Fontana in Holywood.
Stepping Stones NI has over 18 years of experience of running social enterprise café’s which serve as a realistic training platform for adults with a learning disability or difficulty. They operate two successful café’s in Lisburn and decided to look at a new offering for Lisburn in partnership with McIntyre. Having also taught adults with learning disabilities / difficulties, Paula shares Stepping Stones NI’s passion for changing the lives of the charity’s clients.
Paula says “I am delighted to be partnering up with Stepping Stones NI for the launch of the Courtyard Café. The staff team are extremely talented and I am amazed at their passion and motivation. Together we have developed new breads, soups, salads and meals for Lisburn diner to enjoy”.
New menu planning for the Courtyard Cafe with top chef Paula McIntyre
Stepping Stones NI will also be bringing “An Evening with Paula McIntyre” bistro nights beginning in the Autumn from the cosy Courtyard Café on Seymour Street. McIntyre’s previous bistro nights around NI have been extremely popular and sold out in days.
Stepping Stones NI, Business Development Manager, Ciara Brennan says “We are very excited to launch the Courtyard Café, and after our tasting session with Paula this week we are sure our customers old and new will be impressed by our new menu”.
Mr Michael Francis Dixon from Lisburn has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2016 for services to people with learning disabilities in Northern Ireland through Stepping Stones NI.
Michael is a founding member and the first chairperson of Stepping Stones NI. The award winning charitable organisation provides adults with a learning disability and difficulty with the opportunity to access accredited training towards gaining employment.
Having a son with a severe learning disability, Michael is passionate about changing attitudes and perspectives towards adults with a learning disability or difficulty. He worked tirelessly with the then Down Lisburn Health and Social Services Trust at the time and other parents, carers and business people to establish the first support services in Lisburn with the creation of Stepping Stones NI in 1996.
Founding member of Stepping Stones NI, Michael Dixon
Stepping Stones NI has grown extensively in the last eighteen years with Michael playing a pivotal role in its development. The charity now operates six social enterprises in Lisburn, Downpatrick and Newtownards. Each social enterprise serves as a realistic training platform for trainees and is supported by a Training and Employment Services team to support clients with accredited training, work placements, job coaching and securing paid employment. Last year the charity directly supported 246 people with a learning disability or difficulty with 130 clients supported into employment resulting in 90k of earned wages.
Michael served the board of Stepping Stones NI for fourteen years retiring in 2012. He was an active member particularly in the area of fundraising having raised in excess of £285,000.
Michael is humbled to receive the award and says “It has came as a great surprise and is indeed a great honour to be awarded the BEM. I am proud to have been part of Stepping Stones NI and to have worked with a committed team of people who are passionate about supporting adults with a learning disability or difficulty to realise their potential for a better future”.
Stepping Stones NI Chief Officer, Paula Jennings, comments on Michael’s award “I am delighted that Michael has been honoured with a BEM for his services to people with a learning disability and difficulty. Michael is one of the most visionary, determined and passionate people that I have met and it has been a great pleasure to work alongside him over the last 18 years”.
Stepping Stones NI has had a recent expansion in the last twelve months taking the award winning service into Downpatrick and Newtownards employing over sixty staff. With two coffee shops, a wedding stationery business and a Guild Commended Picture Framing business in Lisburn, the charity also operates The Garden Café at the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick and The Gatelodge Café on Church Street in Newtownards. All profits from the businesses are reinvested back in to supporting adults with a learning disability / difficulty to realise their full potential.
The organisation has received a list of awards with its Chief Officer awarded ‘Business Person of the Year’ and securing ‘Best Social Enterprise’ at the 2016 Lisburn & Castlereagh City Business Awards.