Young Social Innovators (YSI) is the biggest civic and social innovation programme in Ireland, educating and engaging young people in the theory and practice of social innovation whilst challenging them to creatively tackle the social issues facing them.
Through their new relationship, Ulster Bank will provide financial support to YSI and its participants, ensuring that social innovation in Ireland continues to be fostered from a young age. A record breaking 444 innovation projects have been entered into this year’s Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards by over 6,500 students nationwide, an increase of 8% from 2015. YSI is currently accessed by approximately one in ten students throughout Ireland whilst it works to grow its interest and activities in Northern Ireland, Canada and Zambia.
Ulster Bank is also committed to providing participants with access to support for their projects, many of which have the potential to be developed into a social enterprise and sustainable business. One such example, Greener Globe, was conceived by a team of students from Tullamore College in County Offaly including Jack Dooley who was speaking at today’s event.
They patented their energy free Aquacica showerhead which uses a traffic light system to encourage users to reduce the length of time they spend in the shower, from an average of eleven minutes to seven minutes, therefore leading to reductions in water use and energy costs.
Paul Stanley, interim CEO of Ulster Bank commented: “Ulster Bank is proud to be embarking on this new partnership with YSI, an organisation that over the last 15 years has shown that the future of our society can be shaped through questioning the status quo and education. We share a goal with YSI to enable growth through innovation, whether it is support for our business customers or for the communities where we live and work, in what matters to them. The work we do with YSI will strengthen the development of social initiatives that are important to young people and deliver positive change in our country for our citizens.”
Speaking at the event, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, co-founder of Young Social Innovators, said:
“Innovation for its own sake is not enough. We have seen all too often in Ireland and elsewhere innovations which benefit a few but are harmful or are out of reach, to many. We need social innovation to be an integral part of innovation so that we build a more equal, inclusive and sustainable society – that is what social innovation can bring to us.”
Since it was founded in 2001, over 4,500 youth-led teams have created projects with the support of YSI, many of which have had a lasting impact in their communities and beyond.
You can watch a short video which paints a picture of what this partnership will mean to the 20,000 young people participating in the YSI programme today, and the many more that will benefit from the programme over the coming years.