Sisters devote their lives to their new business Twigs

By Maurice Garvey

TWO sisters from Tallaght are in the process of opening a fulltime premises, which will provide after-school care for young people with additional needs.

Last October, Jess and Lydia Conlon set up Twigs, an after-school care programme for kids at Jobstown Community Centre.

SDCC IBYE Awards Cheque 12 of 12 Photo Ben Ryan 1

Co-founder of Twigs, Jess Conlon, winner of Best Idea and Overall winner at the LEO IBYE Awards

Within a month, their three classes a week in Jobstown were booked out, and they remain booked out until September – a clear indication that the service was desperately needed in the area.

Recently, Twigs won the ‘Best New Idea’ category at South Dublin’s Best Young Entrepreneurs 2019, and with it a €7,000 investment grant, which will go towards setting up a fulltime service in Killinarden Enterprise Park.

“I have two nephews and a little brother Andrew (20) with autism,” said Jess (27).

“There was nothing there, no sense of community. Nothing daily available. We thought it would be great to set something up.”

Jess notes her sister Lydia found it difficult to return to work because of the lack of day care services for kids on the spectrum.

“She couldn’t go back to work for years, there is no follow on services.”

They hope to renovate and open the Killinarden premises in September.

“It will be a full after-school service for kids aged 4-18. All inclusive but tailored for kids on the spectrum. On top of that we will have social sensory classes and toddler classes.”

The two sisters, originally from Glenshane, both work as SNA’s, Jess in Saggart NS and Lydia in Cheeverstown.

“For this to work, it is not a hugely lucrative business, we just are massively passionate about this and have devoted our lives to it, often working 14-hour days,” said Jess.

“I have two boys, put my degree on hold for now, Lydia has a son, but we want a service for the community.”

The two sisters have already taken on their first staff member Sarah Malone – a former volunteer in Killinarden – and have big plans for the venture.

Jess continued: “We are hoping for a staff of 10 in Tallaght by the end of the year, and 40/50 staff in the next three years.

“We also hope to expand services in South Dublin, North Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare.”

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