No Creak In Their Springs!

On 22 July, the Judges Visited Dublin to Learn About Eco-Mattress Recycling

Eco Mattress was set up as a social economy enterprise. They provide training and back to work experience programmes while being environmentally conscious. The business is committed to reducing the amount of waste material going to landfill sites, in particular mattresses. The materials in mattresses and bed bases are 100% recyclable once broken down correctly. Eco-Mattress Recycling provides one of the only services in the country that effectively facilitates the recycling and re-selling of these materials.

They offer a range of services such as:

  • Green solutions to mattress disposal
  • Kindling free of charge to wholesalers
  • 100% recycling on all waste collected
  • Door to door mattress collection

Efficiency Is Key

The judges learned how Eco Mattress Recycling efficiently collects mattresses over the entire city for recycling. They do both business and private collections by appointment – servicing the North side of the city every Wednesday, and the South side every Friday.
After collection the waste is broken down and separated. The materials are then sold on to interested companies – such as steel manufacturers or scrap companies. In the past year, the business has successfully prevented over 170 tonnes of waste from going to the landfill.


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Education Matters

Representatives of the business gave a brief overview of the company. They explained that Eco Mattress Recycling is the sole recycling institute of mattresses. The judges learnt that the business was due to save over 600 tonnes in the next year with increasing support from the community.

But mattress recycling is not the only good work that the business does. Through training programmes they have given volunteers new skills and ethos for working while being environmentally conscious. Complimented by FETAC-attributed courses the business gives hope to many people going back to work or trying to get involved in recycling enterprise. They provide in-house training and support to these trainees, and have recently taken on one permanent member of staff. They hope to increase this in 2015.

The judges left Eco Mattress Recycling inspired by the fusion of environmentally conscious work and support for trainee employees.

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For more information visit the Eco Mattress Recycling website.

Raising Disability Awareness with Ease in Cashel

It’s a long way to Tipperary, but the judges made the trip on 20 June to meet with the Gold Star Initiative

The Cashel Town Gold Star Initiatives have been hugely successful in the last few years. They were founded in 2006 and the general aim of the group is to raise disability awareness in the community through partnership and cooperation.

The judges were treated to a presentation which outlined the work done by the initiative and its aims. The entire Gold Star project in Cashel is built around focusing on the person at the centre of services  and explores how the environment can be improved to ensure full and meaningful participation of people with disabilities in communities. The group was begun by a public meeting in 2006 to discuss the issues facing people with disabilities in the area. Since its inception, the Gold Star Initiative has had many achievements, including the launch of the Gold Star Guidelines Booklet in 2010 and the Gold Star Logo school competition in 2007.

The initiative also helps to run and promote courses in disability studies for all members of the community. The emphasis on education means that those who partake benefit with a qualification as well as being great ambassadors for the Tipperary community.

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It’s the Little Things

As well as big community outreaches, the judges learnt that the initiative also focuses on the everyday things that make people with disabilities feel more comfortable. This in turn means that the community becomes more integrated and whole.

By educating the community, the Gold Star Initiative aims to teach people about the common steps they can take when interacting with people who are disabled:

  1. Never talk to the person through a friend or companion, communicate directly
  2. Never avert your eyes
  3. Don’t feel the need to speak slower in conversation

Working with all members of the community – from the elderly to school children, the Gold Star Initiative makes sure the people of Tipperary do everything they can to integrate and facilitate disabled people. One of the biggest examples of this is the successful installation of a ramp at a local AIB bank. The previously inaccessible building is now much more aware of the needs of the whole community. The presentation also highlighted some of the remaining buildings with no ramp facilities, highlighting the ongoing need for community effort and cooperation.

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It’s these simple but effective things that have made the Gold Star Initiative stand out. The judges could see that the initiative had a long-term effect on the community in relation to attitudes to people with disabilities. The volunteers present demonstrated how much effort they were willing to put in to help those people who may need help in their community.

The Judges left knowing that the involvement and assistance of disabled residents of Tipperary were in very capable hands.

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For more information about the Gold Star Initiative, visit the Gold Star initiative website or check out the Gold Star Initiative Facebook.

Planting the Seeds For Future Generations

The judges were greeted by the sun when they travelled to Santry, Co Dublin on 4 August.

They were also received warmly by the members of the Santry Community Gardens. The local representatives were in charge of touring the garden, but many of the members came out to show their support. The community had created a detailed presentation to lay out the core values and accomplishments of the garden.

Once an ignored and barren lot, the Garden initiative was founded in 2010 to breathe life into the community. In just four short years the garden has transformed, thanks to the persistent team work of the Santry community.

The gardens now include:

  • A thriving kitchen garden
  • A beautiful heritage orchard
  • An ornamental section

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The work that has been put into the garden has paid off for the people of Santry. Not only does it bring about a sense of team work and community, but it also provides a facility for groups to meet.

Currently the community activities include:

  • Conservation Volunteers
  • Whitehall Beavers
  • Trees for Cities
  • OWLS
  • Dublin Community Growers

These groups benefit from the gardens, whilst the volunteers also benefit from the sense of team work and community spirit. The gardens are a hub of the area and a positive initiative for its people.

Buzz about the Community

The judges toured the facilities of the garden, and heard from locals about the good work that has been done for Santry community. They then visited one of the focal points of the garden – the apiary. The apiary houses the bees that the gardens keep to harvest honey. The community told the judges of the various exotic plants available in the gardens for the bees, resulting in some of the sweetest honey to be found for miles.

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The local volunteers weren’t shy to boast of the gardens.

One member said:

We started over four years ago with a few vegetables in the back corner. Now we have a wonderful kitchen garden and wildlife area

It was clear to the judges that this garden was not only a community project, but a source of pride and inspiration for its members.

The future

The judges learnt a lot about the work that had gone into restoring the garden, but it was clear that Santry Community Gardens still had big plans for the future. In the presentation they learnt about the visions and goals of the garden. The volunteers explained that while there is a lot of practical day-to-day work involved in the garden, they had not lost sight of the long-term goals and plans for the space.

The core values of the Santry Community Gardens are:

  • Sustainability
  • Peace
  • Learning
  • Belonging
  • Community

One of the most important projects for the remainder of the year is the Raised Beds Initiative. The members are currently tackling their ‘problem area’, a difficult patch of earth that is currently being made more structured. Details of the plan are readily available to members of the public and anyone is welcome to become involved.

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For more information about Santry Community Gardens, visit their Facebook page or official website.