Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots have praised the work of Northern Ireland’s social enterprise sector.
The Ministers paid a joint visit today to Ulster Supported Employment Ltd (USEL) in Belfast.
USEL is a social enterprise which annually employs, supports and trains over 1,200 people with disabilities or health conditions across Northern Ireland.
It has a number of business areas including employment services, manufacture of mattresses, recycling of mattresses and carpets, retail stores and four ‘ability cafes’.
Minister Dodds said: “I want to commend USEL on its success in providing a safe working environment for its staff throughout the Covid crisis and maintaining production. It has also diversified its product range by undertaking sub-contract work making face masks and face shields.
“I fully appreciate the significant and growing role that USEL and other social enterprises play in the Northern Ireland social economy.
“The Circular Economy has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and preserve valuable raw materials whilst increasing productivity, creating jobs and providing economic growth.
“USEL are an example of best practice of a Circular Economy business in its work in recycling mattresses.”
Minister Poots said: “USEL have an impressive track record as Northern Ireland’s largest supporter of people with disabilities or health conditions into employment. They are a major contributor to the Northern Ireland circular economy with great potential to expand upon this success.
“USEL have continued their recycling operations during the Covid-19 pandemic, by recycling mattresses, carpet, furniture, plastic, cardboard and waste electrical items. They keep resources within the economy maximising their use until the product has reached the end of its life cycle.
“My Department is leading the development of the
Executive-wide Green Growth Strategy and Delivery Framework and USEL is
an illustration of Green Growth in action. The green jobs they have
created to recycle and reuse what would otherwise be waste going to
landfill are delivering benefits for the environment as well as ensuring
sustainable economic growth.
“USEL hold a Prosperity Agreement with NIEA. The Agency and DAERA stand ready to assist USEL, in collaboration with other NICS Departments, in their future circular economy and Green Growth ambitions.”