Bakery and café proposal to be run by ex-prisoners and drug users is lauded

Bakery and café proposal to be run by ex-prisoners and drug users is lauded

A PROPOSAL for a social enterprise bakery in Ballyfermot staffed by former addicts and prisoners, received cross-party support at the latest Dublin South Central area meeting.

Plans for the ambitious social enterprise are the brainchild of Ballyfermot Star, who provide support to drug users and their families.

Vincent Jackson Ballyfermot 23102017

The group has been working on the proposal for a while, and believe it will have a positive social impact for the area, should it take off, by training and progressing service users into full-time employment.

The short-term vision is for a small outlet in the foyer of the Ballyfermot Sports and Fitness Centre, which presently has no provision for refreshments, but has a monthly footfall of 3,500 people.

Sunniva Finlay, Chief Operating officer at Ballyfermot Star, made a presentation at the area meeting on Wednesday, and her appeal was supported by all the local area councillors.

“This is definitely the way forward for our community – no Semperit is coming back to Ballyfermot – social enterprise is the way ahead,” said Ms Finlay.

“There is a real opportunity for us to provide a café and space in the leisure centre, with nutritious food, and protein meals for people coming in the mornings and evenings.”

“It would only require a small space for about three to four people at a time, hopefully supplying other cafés. The ideal objective is that people can learn management, get their income level up, become strong and independent.”

Councillors supported the proposal, including Cllr Vincent Jackson who said it was vital to provide a second chance for service users, something which is lacking in society.

The Star provides a ‘life-saving service” according to Cllr Daithí Doolan, who believes the proposal offers a “real solution to move people forward, whilst suggesting they contact the Department of Social Protection for support.

Cllr Hazel Norton said it was “important to have somewhere people can socialise outside that is alcohol-free.”

The vision in the proposal is to work with DCC and develop a café, and build on its success with a larger bistro-style restaurant along the front of the leisure centre, to transform the existing plaza into a dynamic destination.