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Newry social enterprise, ‘Centred Soul-Health and Wellbeing for all the Family’ has been awarded £10,000 by the Community Foundation and Bank of Ireland, following a pitch at the Techies in Residence Showcase held at Derry’s Guildhall.  

The charity which is focused on emotional wellbeing, in particular for those who have experienced a Birth Trauma and/or perinatal mental health issues is one of three participants in the Techies in Residence programme to receive funding to further develop their existing prototypes.

Rosemary Deans Centred Soul (second from right) pictured with (L to R) Sean Brady Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR), Gavin Kennedy, Head of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland and Philip Conn Foyle Parents and Friends Association.  The charities all received funding from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and Bank of Ireland following pitches at a recent ‘Techies in Residence’ showcase.
Rosemary Deans Centred Soul (second from right) pictured with from left: Sean Brady, Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR), Gavin Kennedy, Head of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland and Philip Conn Foyle Parents and Friends Association. The charities all received funding from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and Bank of Ireland following pitches at a recent ‘Techies in Residence’ showcase.

Centred Soul partnered with tech house, Damgeo, to develop a digital platform to enable people experiencing peri-natal mental illness and birth trauma to connect and communicate with each-other in a safe space; During a 12 week development sprint they defined the needs of their end users, built a MVP (minimum viable product) and tested their assumptions on focus groups.

Rosemary Deans from Centred Soul said, “Up to 20% of women are diagnosed with perinatal mental health issues including anxiety and depression, while one in 10 men experience postnatal depression.  Anecdotal evidence suggests however that actual figures are significantly higher. Our research demonstrated that there was a need for a platform where those recovering from birth trauma or perinatal mental health issues could gain peer to peer, as well as professional,  support.  The option for users to share their experiences and stories anonymously removed the fear of being identified, a fear which we know can deter people who need help from seeking it out.

“Health professionals have already been referring patients to the platform, which is evidence of its value and the funding we received from the Techies in Residence pitch will go towards populating the platform with additional resources including geo-specific support information.”

Paul Braithwaite, Head of Innovation and Voice at the Community Foundation surmised, “Techies in Residence is now in its fourth year and continues to go from strength to strength, demonstrating the innovation potential of bringing together charities and social enterprises with tech experts. We’re delighted that Bank of Ireland have partnered with us on the programme this year, allowing three great projects to take their ideas to the next stage for the benefit of people and communities in Northern Ireland.”

Gavin Kennedy, Head of Business Banking NI at Bank of Ireland said, “The morning was a fantastic showcase highlighting the impact and value of the collaboration made possible in this programme. We are delighted to be involved in supporting the projects through to the next stage and playing our part in enabling more digitally confident social enterprises. The worthy projects selected have real potential to transform the social enterprises strategy, reaching and servicing clients in the community.”

Over 100 attendees at the showcase were asked to vote for the projects they believed were the most viable. Foyle Parents and Friends who worked with tech partner Zoo Creative, were also awarded £10,000 to continue their work on an app to allow people with disabilities to independently explore Derry’s walls and city centre, while PPR (Participation & the Practice of Rights) who partnered with the Creative Workers Coop, received £5K towards further developing a housing rights complaints system into an online application.

Techies in Residence is a programme of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, delivered in partnership with Innovate NI and funded by Comic Relief. It was launched in 2015 and since then over 25 charities and tech partners have participated in the programme. For information on the 2020 Techies in Residence programme, follow @cfnireland

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