Ashoka Ireland Quarterly - Winter 2015

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On 13th December 2014, the Irish Times published a series of articles on social enterprise in their print and online issues, asking writers to imagine a future of “engaged citizens in a smart society and not just alienated workers in a smart economy.”

December’s article series included ‘What social enterprise can do for you,’ which examined the concept of social entrepreneurs as “people who show that by thinking and acting in a different way, communities can be improved.” Written by Barry Flinn, the article highlighted the work of two Ashoka Fellows working in Ireland: Thorkil Sonne, Founder of Specialisterne, a recruitment company for high-functioning people on the autism spectrum, and Neil McCabe, a fireman from Dublin who has turned Kilbarrack fire station into the first carbon-negative station in the world through his sustainability model, the Green Plan.

Another featured article, ‘Solving the biggest social problems requires a willingness to fail,’ spoke with Ashoka Ireland Fellow Krystian Fikert, Founder of mental health centre MyMind.

Read the articles on the Irish Times website.

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BI & Ashoka Ireland are delighted to update you about the successes of our partnership to transform healthcare in 2014.

MYMIND — In 2014, Ashoka Fellow Krystian Fikert’s organisation MyMind treated over 5,500 individuals with 1-on-1 care, opened their fourth national centre, in Limerick, and launched ‘MyMind at Work,’ a new programme to promote emotional wellbeing in the workplace. Two new centres are planned for 2015, in Galway and the Midlands.

SIEL BLEU — Ashoka Fellow Jean-Michel Ricard’s organisation Siel Bleu worked with over 1,650 people in 16 counties in 2014, and published the ‘Happier Study’ across 32 residential homes in Ireland, France, Spain and Belgium. Results showed positive outcomes across a number of measures, including reducing falls and improving quality of life.

Project ECHO — In 2014, Ashoka Fellow Sanjeev Arora’s Project ECHO welcomed St. James’ Hospital into their network, and Prof. Suzanne Norris and Colm Bergin launched the first Hepatitis-C ECHO Hub outside of the United States, which will facilitate the future management of Hepatitis C in Ireland.

EDEN ALTERNATIVE — Ashoka Fellow William Thomas’s organisation Eden Alternative successfully trained staff at Raheny Nursing Home to adopt the Eden Alternative philosophy in 2014. The model now impacts over 250 lives across Ireland, with plans to extend its reach in 2015.

THIRD AGE — Ashoka Ireland Fellow Mary Nally’s Third Age joined the health cluster in 2014. The organisation has over 1,000 volunteers working throughout Ireland contributing to their local communities through three national programmes: Senior Help Line, Failte Isteach and SAGE.

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Ashoka Ireland Fellow Krystian Fikert is the Founder of MyMind, a movement for community- based mental health services. Originally from Poland, Krystian moved to Dublin in 2004 to work for Google as a search-quality evaluator. A trained psychologist, he was was struck by the volume of Irish searches relating to mental health and depression and saw a niche for support and early intervention at a community level. In 2007 he set up the PPD psychological centre, an early precursor to MyMind, offering advice and counselling to immigrant communities.

Krystian’s vision is to make mental health care available and affordable without stigma, using a revenue-generating combination of paid and pro-bono therapists and practitioners. MyMind now has a team of 80 staff, working in 10 languages from Dublin, Cork and Limerick, and a strong network of partners including Ashoka, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Boehringer Ingelheim, among many others. In a recent interview with Business&Leadership, Krystian said that co-creation has been key to his success:

“In terms of the overall vision and mission of the organisation, we are constantly interested in building partnerships with other organisations… We want mental healthcare to be as normal as going to see a GP, and we’re not going to achieve that on our own.”
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As mentioned in the Boehringer Ingelheim partnership update above, 2014 was a busy year of milestones for MyMind, and 2015 promises even more growth and success, with two new partnerships on the horizon. MyMind recently teamed up with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services to provide community based counselling and psychotherapy services to a number of their clients. Additionally, MyMind is partnering with the Irish Bank Officials Association to provide independent mental health services to their members nationally. These two partnerships will help to expand MyMind’s reach and further advance their mission of providing affordable and accessible mental health support across Ireland.

Visit MyMind’s website to experience their impressive user interface.

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For the third year running, Ashoka and Ben&Jerry’s partnered up for Join Our Core, an international competition seeking to support and celebrate young entrepreneurs who have built a social mission into to their business model.

In November, two Irish finalists Aoibheann O’Brien (FoodCloud) and Joe Caslin (Our Nation’s Sons) pitched to a panel of expert judges in London. Winner Aoibheann was awarded €10,000 in prize money, FoodCloud branding on a Ben&Jerry’s ice-cream flavour and a trip to the Ben&Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont, USA. Runner-up Joe Caslin received €1,000.

Visit FoodCloud’s website to learn more about their food-redistribution model, and check out Joe Caslin’s beautiful street art installations, which seek to raise awareness around men’s mental health in Ireland!

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Founded by Ashoka in 2012 and supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Changemaker Xchange selects and gathers over 100 young changemakers with a proven track record in driving exciting social ventures for a five-day summit. Hosted in Istanbul this coming May 2015, the summit is a unique chance to share experiences, learn from each other and create cross-border collaborations.

Former attendees from Ireland include Adam Harris, Founder of AsIAm, and Daithí de Buitléir, Founder of Raising and Giving Ireland (RAG). All social innovators aged between 18 and 28 are invited to apply!

Find out more about the summit at the Changemaker Xchange website & read Adam’s blogpost on Virgin Ignite from earlier this week!

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— Changemaker Principals & students will gather at St. Oliver’s NS in Kerry for a site-visit in February— The Ashoka Changemaker Schools Summit will convene 25 Principals from all over Europe in Sweden this March

Call for nominations! Contact Anne-Marie ( with nominations for the next class of Changemaker Schools in Ireland

Read about our Changemaker Schools programme & watch the video on our website.

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See how our Venture programme has helped the global social entrepreneurship sector grow in 2014!

Visit our website to find out more.

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In 2015, we are delighted to welcome a new Advisory Board. Patrick Coveney (CEO, Greencore), Neil O’Leary (CEO, Ion Equity), Sharon Keilthy (Health Expert, McKinsey) and Aidan Browne (Partner, Sullivan & Worcester) join long-time Ashoka supporter Bride Rosney (Secretary, Mary Robinson Foundation) and Ashoka Ireland Fellow Caroline Casey (The Ability Awards) on the Board.

Read their bios on our website.



This is the winter issue of the Ashoka Ireland quarterly newsletter. Feel free to share the link widely! Email Fiona at with photos, videos and announcements to be featured in the next quarterly, planned for this spring.

Find out more about our work on our website, and find us on Facebook & Twitter!