Camphill Communities of Ireland

Case Study

“Siul Eile walking programmes are great way not only to get active, but mainly to meet your neighbours and discover parts of the community you rarely if ever visited before.”

BNest Incubator Programme 2016/2017 Participant

The Challenge

Liam Fleming created some very successful walking programmes – it all started by simply going for a walk with few friends and neighbours, then getting more people involved by participating in Operation Transformation, next doing the first Couch to Mountain Top programme and then organising over 120 walks in the local area.

In 2016 in Clogheen, Co. Tipperary and surrounding areas about 500 participants have completed over 120 walks – that’s about 27,000 km between them!

The Journey

How it all started? Liam knew one thing: Clogheen is a beautiful area. But it isn’t popular on the tourist’s map, and it isn’t well known by the locals either. He is very passionate about changing that and helping people to rediscover the country roads, forest’s paths and hidden local gems – parts of the community you rarely (if ever) visited before.

Another reason behind the instant success of the local walks was the fact that it is great way to get active.

Walking is a simple activity, accessible to all.

Anyone can be part of Siul Eile walking community. There is no need to buy anything – walks are casual. And you start easy at any level – each at their own pace. The vast majority of walks are between 3 and 8km.”

But there is so much more to it that than getting fit and visiting places – walks are fantastic opportunity to reconnect the community:

Meeting people, socialising – it was a big winner for all people participating in the walks.

We believe there is no replacement for a real social interaction. Opportunities to get social are disappearing and that needs to change.”

Before he knew, within few months – Liam had a large group of walkers but wasn’t sure what to do about it…
“I didn’t know where this was going – I knew it had a great potential, but I didn’t have a clear idea how to progress and develop it further.”

BNest Impact

Liam found out about BNest on social media only few days before the applications deadline and he was sorry to have missed the information evenings – but the programme looked interesting enough for him to apply.
“I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and after taking part in some other programmes I was a little worried what the outcome might be. But now I’m glad I took part.”

BNest Programme has helped Liam to take his idea on a track to creating a financially viable, sustainable social enterprise.

“If I didn’t participate in the BNest Programme, Siul Eile definitely wouldn’t be where it is now

– it would probably still be centred around Clogheen only.”

The most obvious advantage of the BNest for Liam was the positive environment and encouragement the programme provided:

“There is a way – there is a solution, whatever challenge your organisation might be facing.”

All parts of the program were very valuable.

The first 8 weeks gave us the opportunity to see where we were – it was vital.
But this was only a start – after that we had to dig deeper and work on developing our own enterprises. One-to-ones and resilience sessions were also crucial.

Liam admits he enjoyed every challenge, but the exercise where all participants prepared and presented a pitch to potential funders, was the one to become the highlight of the programme:

“It certainly wasn’t easy, but it helped to step up the game and get more comfortable with this type of conversations.”

He also praises the delivery of the programme:

“It was easy to follow. Every aspect was covered in it, maybe even more than I needed.”

Main takeaway from the programme?

On other programmes you might hear – ‘you have to do this’ or ‘you have to learn that’. But BNest was different – The one thing I really got out of it was:

“My own style is good enough.”

The Next Challenge

Since finishing the programme – Siul Eile has the second group up and running in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary and there is another group in the pipeline. It is a first step in spreading Siul Eile groups across the whole country – Liam is working on replicating the same model in different towns.

“Ireland is beautiful

– we need to get to know our own localities, explore your environments.”

It will be challenging, as there is no one-fits-all recipe for success. And while Liam is happy to share his vast expertise and very practical knowledge in organising the walks, he believes each walking programme needs to be unique:

“Programmes need to be based in YOUR community, YOUR local environment & country roads.”

Beside scaling up and reaching more communities, Siul Eile is now also looking into organising a 100km adventure walk in the next 18 months – ambitious plans, but Liam is confident:

“Through BNest I got enough confidence that it will work.”

Recommendation

If you’re considering taking part in BNest – just go at it and go wholeheartedly into it – it definitely be worth it.

No matter what idea you have – there is a solution for you.
No matter what stage you’re at – If you’re up and running – it will help to develop it further – if you’re at the idea stage – it will help you to figure out the way to bring it to life.

The time and effort invested in BNest programme was totally worth it – the road from Clogheen to Limerick isn’t the best, but I enjoyed taking that road to go to BNest every Friday!