IF any phrase over the past year has entered our everyday vernacular quicker than “coronavirus”, it must be “the new normal”.
As a modern society, we have never experienced anything like the Covid-19 crisis. It has brought with it new social, economic and environmental problems, which threaten the stability, sustainability, equality, and inclusivity of an Ireland in which we all want to live and work.
What the new normal is or what it will become is something that fills many of us with uncertainty.
However, it also presents us with a unique and powerful opportunity. Rather than allow the new normal to shape us, embracing innovation will provide us with the key to shape the new normal for ourselves.
With this in mind, Rethink Ireland (formerly known as Social Innovation Fund Ireland) has collaborated with the Irish Government to create the Innovate Together Fund, a response to the need for new solutions in the new normal, post-pandemic.
With an initial commitment of €5 million from the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund, Rethink Ireland has raised an additional €600,000 in funding from corporate partners including the Z Zurich Foundation, Oakfield Trust, Medtronic and Twitter.
Out of the 51 organisations awarded funding and support in Round 1 of the Innovate Together Fund, seven are set to make a positive impact in the Cork region.
Amongst these is Intinn, a unique youth mental health programme to be delivered online by the Cork International Film Festival to the classrooms of transition year students, at a time when Ireland’s youth mental health crisis is being worsened by the effects of COVID-19.
Also included in this group of awardees are ActionAid Ireland with the ‘AFTER’ project, Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation’s Abalobi project, Helium Arts’ Remote Creative Hub, Peter McVerry Trust’s ‘Housing First’ Virtual Support Programme, Dress for Success’s ‘Challenges Reimagined’ project, and ‘Safer Streets for All’ from Cyclist.ie.
“The invention and imagination shown by the 481 applicants and 51 Awardees is remarkable,” said Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland. “The projects cover the spectrum from physical and mental health supports, to online education, community outreach, sustainability, food security and reskilling our workforce. It is phenomenal to see the depth and breadth of innovation in Ireland at the moment.”
Minister Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development said, “The successful projects announced really showcase the amazing ways that all communities across Ireland are innovating in response to the social challenges presented by COVID-19.”
The Z Zurich Foundation, a charitable foundation established by Zurich Insurance Company Ltd has committed €500,000 to the Innovate Together Fund as part of its global Covid-19 response.
Anthony Brennan, CEO, Zurich Ireland said: “We are very proud to work together with Rethink Ireland to implement innovative social projects that help build resilience in communities, as they adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.”
For more information, visit: rethinkireland.ie