In the years that followed, several other purpose built facilities were developed in Meath. CRANN played a significant role in their development, through the informal provision of; advice and guidance in the set-up of their legal company structure, support to voluntary Boards of Management and project management on the build. By 2007, it was clearly evident that by working together, it enabled communities to achieve more. It was through the sharing of knowledge, skills and expertise that the concept of CRANN as a Shared Business Service was born. Hence, the “CRANN” logo, which is a tree with the caption, “Communities Supporting Each Other”, encapsulates its ethos.
In 2007, Government provided Community Childcare Organisations with funding known as a “Staffing Grant.” This supported Community Childcare services in the payment of wages to staff, who were employed to work directly with children only. Staff providing ancillary services such as receptionists, financial administrators, cooks, cleaners and care takers were paid via generated income. In an attempt to address this strain on resources, CRANN (through Ballivor Community Childcare) applied for a grant from the Community Service Programme, funded through the then Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and were successful. Participation in this Programme played a major milestone in CRANN’s development. The funding allowed for a Manager and 6 FTE ancillary staff, which could be shared among other Community Childcare Services. This success supported the sustainability of these Community Organisations.
In addition, to further support the need for affordable quality childcare in Co. Meath, Ballivor Community Childcare applied for and became the main sponsor of the local Community Employment Scheme. This provided the service with access to additional resources.
Following an evaluation of the effectiveness of this shared business practice, its potential benefit to other Social Inclusion Projects and recommendations made by National Children’s Nurseries Association (Now Early Childhood Ireland) in 2011, CRANN was incorporated as a legal identity - The Crann Support Group Ltd. in 2012.
CRANN has organically grown from an idea discussed one day between two people in a community setting, to a large Social Entreprise responding to the needs of Community Childcare Organisations and Social Inclusion Projects. The CRANN Shared-Business Services model has since flourished and now provides professional support in the areas of;
- Social Entreprise Management Consultancy
- Human Resource Management
- Finance Management (preparation of accounts to audit stage)
- Education and Training
- Facilities Management - including transport, maintenance, caretaking, security and cleaning Management.
CRANN’s Membership has grown and has now stretched beyond Meath, to all four corners of Ireland. Each Member Organisation is an independent Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) and have their own Board of Directors who maintain their own autonomy at all times. Based on the needs of their Community Organisation, they choose from the CRANN à la carte menu of services and engage in a Service Level Agreement with CRANN to carry out work on their behalf.
CRANN Shared Business Services is now recognized as a proven model of how Community and Voluntary Organisations can access professional services in a cost effective way, while ensuring the sustainability of their service. With the experienced, professional and committed team at CRANN, CRANN is ready to take on the challenge of further growth and expansion. We welcome the opportunity to talk to potential new members and discuss the needs of your Community Entreprise in a confidential and supportive way.