The power of conversation and collaboration in 2020

 USEL is a social enterprise that supports employment for people with disabilities or health conditions. They exist solely to help people with disabilities and health-related conditions move into and sustain employment. We were thrilled to work with such a vital organisation like USEL at the end of last year by putting together Christmas gift boxes for all their employees based across four sites throughout Northern Ireland.

Storybox was started in October 2020 with the goal of supporting local businesses and social enterprises in what was a persistently difficult and uncertain time for businesses operating in either the third sector or retail sector. Storybox hoped to promote and raise awareness of some of these businesses by bringing together their goods in a gift box. We hoped this collaboration of goods would make for a thoughtful present on the run up to Christmas, whilst supporting local within the community. Storybox was formed not only as another sales channel for the businesses but also intended to be a space to share more information on the stories behind these businesses and most importantly where they could find them and buy more of their goods!

Of course, Christmas during COVID-19 meant the usual parties and gatherings were postponed and replaced with virtual festivities like many other things in 2020. Despite this, USEL wanted to find a way to show thanks to all members of their team for their hard work, resilience, and effort in what was one of the most difficult of years. In doing so, they wanted to support other social enterprises and local businesses.

Through the power of conversation USEL heard about Storybox through Work West Belfast who are a brilliant agency helping and continuing to help the Storybox idea get off the ground. USEL learned of how we were trying to support our local businesses by both sharing their stories and bringing together a combination of their goods to form gift boxes.

It was a pleasure to work with USEL in creating the perfect gift for their 150 employees and thanks to their initiative to support local last Christmas, we were able to bring together the ‘Christmasbox’ consisting of products from NearyNógs, Refuge Chocolate, Bolster Community, Lavender Lines Photography and Howell & Trowel (St George’s Market).

Karen Gilgunn, Marketing, Communications and Business Development Manager shared the following in her experience working with Storybox:

“We loved the Storybox initiative and were extremely glad to use our purchasing power for good this year by supporting local businesses in the community on the run up to Christmas. Rachel worked with us on our budget and preferences to find the perfect gift that could be distributed easily to the team across four sites. We were delighted with how well the gift boxes were received and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the service!"

If you are looking for a corporate gift for the upcoming holiday season, contact us at or get in touch here for more information on how we can work with you to create a beautiful gift that is socially responsible and supports local businesses in Northern Ireland.

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