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Minister Varadkar launches the eir Fund – Connecting Communities

Today, Leo Varadkar T.D., Minister for Social Protection, joined Richard Moat, CEO, eir and Carolan Lennon, Managing Director, open eir, to officially launch the eir Fund – Connecting Communities.

The Fund is a key initiative within eir’s CSR strategy and will enable the company to make a positive impact in communities by providing much needed support to local charity and community causes across Ireland.

The eir Fund – Connecting Communities is open for applications from all eir employees and any registered Irish charity, NGO or organisation with charitable status. As a direct result of the Fund, €160,000 will be evenly split across the four provinces and invested at community level each year up to 2019.

Speaking at the launch of the eir Fund – Connecting Communities, Minister Leo Varadkar said: “The Government and I strongly support and advocate for Corporate Social Responsibility. The best companies should be about more than making profit and increasing shareholder value, they should also have a mission to contribute to the betterment of communities that buy their services and products, and to develop human capital by supporting the skills and personal development of their staff. Today’s announcement is proof that eir clearly understands this. I am delighted to be associated with it.

“The eir Fund helps employees to make a positive impact in their community, and helps the company to support more local causes throughout Ireland. I understand that 50 charities will benefit over three years. I welcome the fact that the eir Fund is open for applications from all eir employees and any registered Irish charity, NGO or organisation with charitable status.”

Michelle Toner, Head of CSR, eir said, “We are committed to a CSR strategy which not only aligns with our business objectives and ensures that we are acting as a responsible and sustainable business but that more importantly allows us to support the communities across Ireland where our employees live and work. We have a presence in every community in Ireland and we want to support those communities in any way we can. The eir Fund allows us to do that in a very meaningful and tangible way.

eir has a long history of community support in Ireland. We have worked with Special Olympics Ireland for 32 years; this is the longest partnership of its type in the country. Through that relationship, we have learned invaluable lessons about the positive impact our business can make when we use our national scale to benefit a charity.

Over the past nine months we have worked with 17 not-for-profit organisations across a range of social issues including homelessness, employment and educational supports in disadvantaged areas. We have had the opportunity to meet and work with new groups that are effecting real positive change in their community every day. We’re proud to be part of their story”.

Amongst the recipients of the eir Fund – Connecting Communities and speaking at today’s launch event, was Chris White, CEO, National Council for the Blind Ireland, who said, “NCBI will run an intensive IT training camp next year for children and young people who are blind or vision impaired. This would not be possible without the support from the eir Fund. Our camp will set our children up for success from education right through to employment. These camps, facilitated by the University of Limerick will enable children to learn the programmes available to them to assist with their education.”

Also at the launch today were a number of other charities who have received support from the eir Fund – Connecting Communities including – Camara Ireland, an organisation committed to improving technology in disadvantaged schools, Rosie’s Trust who support people that are terminally ill, cancer patients, and older people who have companion pets but are unable to look after them independently and Aoibheann's Pink Tie, a charity created to support families of children diagnosed with cancer and attending St John's Oncology Ward in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.

Applications for the eir Fund can be made through


About eir’s CSR strategy
· eir’s CSR strategy incorporates three main areas of focus: community; diversity and inclusion, and sustainability.
· eir’s relationship with Special Olympics Ireland is the longest CSR partnership of its kind in Ireland - celebrating a 30-year anniversary in 2015 and raising almost €270,000 in 2016.
· Along with funding, eir provides volunteers for sporting events like the Special Olympics World Games every four years together with technological platforms to drive the organisation forward including a next generation network and an eir data centre to improve security and organisation uptime.

About the eir Fund recipients (to date)
The 17 successful applicants of the eir Fund to date across the four provinces are:
1. Turn2Me (Leinster) Turn2Me provides online mental health services through all connected devices. The charity has recently embarked on the redevelopment of their e-mental healthcare platform which allows 1-1 service delivery. The eir Fund is allowing Turn2Me to:
build an app for Android and IOS, making key services more available to those in need
enable the Thought Catcher service which is designed to be used regularly to allow the teams to help those at risk of self-harm, loneliness or suicidal ideation
provide video counseling through the Turn2Me app, reaching over 90% of the population of Ireland who have a smartphone with a camera, making counseling more private
2. Camara Ireland (Leinster) Camara Ireland is dedicated to improving technology in disadvantaged schools across Ireland. The eir Fund is helping Camara to offer a Framework to 8 schools across Ireland with three strands including:
School Leadership Training which gives school leaders guidance on the process of integrating ICT into the entire school.
A School Audit which examines teachers’ ICT ability and confidence, along with the school’s current technology situation, used to create a baseline report for the school on the ICT levels of staff giving the school a clear picture of what equipment they own currently, and what may be coming towards the end of its working life.
A customised training plan for the schools in the areas of Leadership and Planning; ICT in the Curriculum and ICT Culture.
3. Aoibheann's Pink Tie
(Leinster) The eir Fund donation was made to assist with Aoibheann’s Pink Tie’s work supporting families of children diagnosed with cancer, attending St John's Oncology Ward in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.
eir Business has recently completed the installation of free social Wi-Fi for patients and their families in Crumlin hospital.
4. Make A Wish (Connaught) Make A Wish grants wishes to children battling with life-threatening medical conditions. In 2015, the charity granted 174 wishes with the ambition of increasing to 225 in 2016. The eir Fund helped Make A Wish grant twelve-year-old Cian from Mayo, who is battling cystic fibrosis, a cabin where he can enjoy himself and not be at risk.
5. Galway Samaritans (Connaught) The Galway Samaritans is a voluntary organization that provides confidential, non-judgmental support to those who need it. The eir Fund is supporting the charity by helping to make their premises a safe and comfortable space from which the Samaritans can continue to deliver a service to local community. The premises will be used for training new volunteers and for branch meetings.
6. LGBT Helpline
(Connaught) The LGBT Helpline, Galway is a national support service for LGBT people and their families and friends, providing support and information through a network of local LGBT helpline centres. (Two eir employees, Stuart Coleman and Dermot McCarthy volunteer with the Helpline in Dublin.) The eir Fund is helping the LGBT Helpline by:
developing additional supports for LGBT people and their family members and promoting the LGBT helpline’s range of services across the Connaught region;
promoting the Connaught Guide, an information pack outlining the range of national and local services offered by LGBT Helpline network and containing leaflets and posters for display in GP surgeries, Family Resource centres and Health centres in Connaught;
establishing peer support groups for LGBT people and their family members in local areas and funding room rental and advertising of support groups for the first year in operation.
7. Birdwatch Ireland (Connaught) BirdWatch Ireland is the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland. Established in 1968, BirdWatch Ireland has over 15,000 members and supporters and a local network of over 30 branches nationwide. The primary objective of BirdWatch Ireland is the protection of wild birds and their habitats in Ireland.
BirdWatch Ireland carries out research and survey work to try to best maintain these habitats whilst operating conservation projects and recruiting, retaining and servicing a growing membership base.
The eir Fund will support Birdwatch with their project to help save the Irish native curlew, currently close to extinction. There are less than 150 breeding pairs left in Ireland. Birdwatch Ireland is dedicated to halting the extinction of the curlew in Ireland.

8. NCBI (Munster) The National Council for the Blind in Ireland provides counselling, rehabilitation, mobility, independent living, technology, employment and accessible library services nationally. With eir’s support, in conjunction with the University of Limerick, NCBI will hold several intensive IT camps for children and young people with vision impairment. The IT camps will take the form of residential based events in the University over a six-month period, which will be facilitated by NCBI’s Toni O’Dwyer, a leading specialist in service delivery to the sight loss community.
9. Cork Deaf Enterprises (Munster) Deaf Enterprises is Ireland’s only dedicated employer of Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Ireland. Their main revenue stream is the up cycling of furniture. The eir Fund will help Cork Deaf Enterprises by assisting with the purchase and implementation of an IT system; the development of an effective customer relationship management system; the production of marketing materials including the design, print and distribution of co-branded flyers to promote the charity’s activities and the design of a co-branded logo for the company van to increase community awareness of the charity whilst promoting the charities online presence
10. Cork ARC Cancer Support House (Munster) Cork ARC Cancer Support House is a community based voluntary organization that offers a safe place for cancer patients, their friends and family, offering help and support. The eir Fund will assist Cork ARC Cancer Support House by providing funding for induction, training and supervision of volunteers, listeners, touch-therapists and counsellors. The support will also give the opportunity to develop skills for volunteer roles through the therapeutic workshops, cancer awareness education and vital organization updates.
11. MS Care Centre (Munster) The eir Fund donation will help provide 20 expert led physiotherapy classes for people living with MS.
12. The Welcome Organisation (Ulster) The Welcome Organisation delivers support services and interventions to people who are rough sleeping, street drinking, begging or at risk of homelessness. The eir Fund is supporting the Welcome Organisation with the co-ordination of street outreach volunteer services to:
improve use of resources and prevent service duplication;
develop new and innovative ways of using volunteers to support people to move on from homelessness by developing a ‘buddy system’ to help individuals sustain tenancies, cope with isolation, re-integrate into the community and help create a broader circle of support;
develop a transferrable skills base to improve the volunteering experience, client outcome and employability.
13. Rosie’s Trust (Ulster) Rosie’s Trust supports three main groups – people who are terminally ill, cancer patients, and older people who have companion pets but are unable to look after them independently. The main aim is to keep the owner and their pet together.
14. Macmillan Cancer House (Ulster) Macmillan is a constant source of support for people dealing with cancer and for the family and friends of those who have been diagnosed. The eir Fund is supporting Macmillan Cancer House by:
helping Macmillan in providing local support services to the community in Northern Ireland;
continuing to provide the vital services – so one must not fight cancer alone;
assisting with vital research into cancer.
15. Tandragee Rovers (Ulster) Tandragee Rovers is a local youth football team for children from the age of 4 to sixteen. The eir Fund is supporting Tandragee Rovers by providing much needed equipment – footballs, football goals, and clothing. The eir funding will also be used to help coach education and accreditation, and allow Tandragee expand their coaching set-up.
16. Search and Rescue Dog Association Ireland (SARDA) (Ulster) Search and Rescue Dog Association Ireland (SARDA) is a non-profit organisation that has been assisting in searches for vulnerable and high risk missing persons for over 30 years . They provide assistance in searches in various situations and weather conditions across the UK and Ireland. SARDA Ireland North has dogs trained in mountain and lowland searches, drowned victim searches and collapsed structure searches.
Funding is expected to be used on training and equipment for new volunteers, including mountain skills, REC3 trauma first aid training and equipment such as waterproof jackets and insulated garments. The funding will also be spent on the essential SAR equipment such as a Sonar device for drowned victim searches and handheld GPS for new members to name a few.
17. Just 4 Children (Ulster) Just 4 Children support an initiative known as the Keep Billy Alive 2 campaign. Billy is a young boy who suffers from severe seizures. He had suffered from seizures as a young baby and has recently fallen victim to them once again. Billy’s only hope is Professor Nordli, based in Los Angeles, after being turned away from Irish and UK services. The cost of the treatment needed to save Billy is £300,000, and the family have since travelled to the US, despite not having enough funding.
Funding from the eir Fund will be used to support this campaign and hold fundraisers to raise the much needed funds to pay for his treatment. Events such as bucket collections, 100-hour treadmill challenges and dinner dance auctions are being set up across the country which eir will assist in funding.