The voice for Social Enterprises & Social Entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. Connecting, supporting, developing and sustaining vibrant businesses to create social change.


Compass Advocacy Network

I Can, We Can…You CAN!

CAN is a unique, user-led charity of people with learning disabilities, based in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland. We are extremely proud of our organisation as it has retained all of the unique qualities from its inception including remaining user-led and managed, independent, progressive and proactive.

CAN’s underpinning aim is to create an organisation for informed and empowered individuals to push back the barriers. We want people with learning disabilities to have the same fulfilling and creative opportunities as every other citizen therefore leading to our membership taking control over their own lives and destinies… “Enhancing Lives…Creating Change”

As an organisation, we work with people with learning disabilities, mental he aged 12 and over. We run 3 x Base projects, offering social and recreational opportunities in Ballymena, Ballymoney and Coleraine in partnership with the local health trust and our CAN Plus (previously Shadow Council) project has enabled us to establish ourselves as a model of good practice in enabling people with learning disabilities to participate at all levels of policy making. CAN’s suite of social enterprises offer training opportunities for adults with learning disabilities through WE (Work Enablement) CAN funded by DEL, ESF and NHSCT.  CAN Can Recycling (processing waste materials), CAN Can Upcycle (upcycling furniture and household items), CAN Can Frames (our recently launched framing service) and CAN Can Bazaar offer a range of experiences and work-based skills enhancement opportunities.

Before coming to us, many individuals have just left school or have been in daycare for a long time and are unfamiliar with having a job or being part of a team. The WE CAN project enables trainees to receive real, valuable work experiences and qualifications as well as the  chance to gain new skills and confidence to progress into other areas of employment or volunteering opportunities.

Derek CampbellDerek Campbell, 34, Aghadowey, Coleraine.

“I started at CAN Can Recycling 6 months ago and I attend two days a week. Just recently I started another day at the CAN Can Bazaar Charity Shop.

I really enjoy my work at CAN Can Recycling in particular going out in the van with Geoffrey the driver collecting waste materials. I do find some things difficult like weighing the clothes and recording information but I am still learning and the staff help me. The staff and trainees are all very helpful and friendly and I have made many new friends.

At the CAN Can Bazaar Shop I am learning retail skills. I really enjoy meeting the customers and helping them. I get nervous when I’m on the till as I have never worked a till before, but the volunteers always help me if I need them.

My family thinks my placements are really good for me as there is a lot of variety and I have learned many new skills. I have gained Asdan Qualifications in fire safety, health and safety at work and time management. I really enjoyed completing the Asdan modules and hope to gain many more over the next few months.

Amy RickerbyAmy Rickerby, 21, Coleraine

“I left school at 19 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I chose to go on to tech to do a wider choices course which would hopefully help me in deciding what type of work I would like to do. I enjoy the course at tech as I am able to meet new friends and learn new skills.

I go to CAN Can Upcycle one day a week which I enjoy and in particular I love working with the furniture, learning skills such as sanding and painting.

I then moved on to a placement at CAN Can Bazaar where I have learned retail skills and it is through this placement I have learned that I would like to go on to find a job in retail. I work out the back sorting the clothes and tidying the shop and welcoming customers. I have become more confident and talk to customers more now and help them if they are looking for something.

I have found it difficult deciding what I would like to do after leaving school but working at the social enterprises at CAN have helped me try new things and find out what I like”.

CAN is based at 20 Seymour Street, Ballymoney, County Antrim. For more information on CAN, check out our website on  or call us on 028 2766 9030 / 2766 7775.

Charity No. NI100988

CAN group logos