Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC) has established a number of networks to support community initiatives.

“They have played a crucial role in strengthening connections, shared learning and mutual support amongst community and voluntary groups across Donegal,” said CEO Padraic Fingleton.

• Padraic Fingleton, CEO, DRCD. Photo by AM.

They include the Donegal Food Response Network, the Donegal Network of Men’s Sheds, the Day Care Centres Network and the Social Enterprise Network Donegal (SEND).

The Donegal Food Response Network engages in crucial work, and by working together the network has more power than groups working in silos.

The Men’s Sheds Network holds monthly meetings and events such as welding and horticulture demonstrations, a countywide summer engagement event, and a regional Irish Men Sheds Network gathering,

The Donegal Day Care Centre Network allocates resources in terms of staff and funding to address the needs of volunteer committee members in these centres.

The Social Enterprise Network Donegal (SEND) has a membership of 59 social enterprises and it serves as a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration.

DLDC is also developing support hubs – physical space with additional supports – for emerging social entrepreneurs as they grow into independent social enterprises.

The Social Enterprise Incubator Hub model offers workshops, one-to-one mentoring, desk space and general office support. DLDC has collaborated with educational partners to deliver the mentoring in marketing, HR and finance.

The aim is to work with anyone with an idea through to operating as a fully-fledged social enterprise. Timeframes will be tailored to the specific social enterprise, typically spanning 12 to 18 months.

The first Social Enterprise Incubator Hub began operating in January and it will be replicated in May and September.