I am a creative thinker, a social activist and an eternal optimist. Who I am has been hugely shaped by the dysfunctional and beautiful little part of the world I come from, and my experiences through the peace movement and decades of youth work. I am in the habit of raising issues others would rather I didn’t talk about – particularly in the interests of those whose voices are seldom heard and rarely understood.
I am a freelance facilitator specialising in engagement. I can help your organisation to work more effectively with key audiences and I can assist organisations in engaging effectively with neighbourhoods and young people – including those from tougher social realities. I am happy to work with interesting people on interesting projects in Northern Ireland or around the world. Please contact me below to discuss your needs or ideas.
I am currently working on a number of projects, including working to raise awareness of the impact of paramilitary human rights abuses on young people, youth work and environmental justice, and wrote an opinion piece on the future of Youth Work in Northern Ireland for the Building Change Trust.
The poster below was created as part of a project with the British Council in Lebanon in 2019 as part of their wider work on preventing violent extremism amongst young people.
Until December 2016 I was the ‘City Launcher’ for Nextdoor in Northern Ireland and then helped them to get public agencies onto the platform. Nextdoor is a new kind of social network based on neighbourhoods. It is private and secure and allows neighbours to connect to build stronger and safer communities. Thanks to my networks, skills and expertise, Nextdoor has grown faster in Belfast than anywhere else in the UK. I continue to work with Nextdoor to help support local neighbourhoods and to help small businesses understand the value of the platform to reach customers and support their neighbours.
I have also been working with some great organisations locally including Ark Housing, the Voice of Young People in Care, Community Evaluation Northern Ireland, RNIB Northern Ireland and have just started a new evaluation project with Invisible Traffick. Internationally I have worked with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy on their programmes in Lebanon and Bahrain. I n 2019 worked with the Lebanese Government and the British Council in Lebanon on the youth strand of the country’s Preventing Violent Extremism Strategy. I am also a registered trainer on the SALTO European Trainers list, and was a trainer with ECORYS for the Erasmus Plus programme in the UK. I co-designed and led a study visit on youth work and the radicalisation of young people , and worked on projects on youth worker training in Higher Education, and Intercultural Competence.
I am working with others to develop a pilot of Learning Dreams in Northern Ireland – a way of working with parents to improve the learning outcomes of their children, that was developed by Dr Jerome Stein of the University of Minnesota. I am also involved in a number of aspects of the Fresh Start strategy to tackle Paramilitarism here in Northern Ireland as a founder member of the Stop Attacks Forum.
I am the former CEO of Public Achievement, which for 16 years (until January 2016) was Northern Ireland’s most innovative youth organisation. The organisation won a host of local and international awards, including a Big Society Award from the UK Prime Minister and a Tech for Good Award. Previously I worked for the Youth Council for Northern Ireland, the School of Education in Ulster University, and the Community of the Peace People. One of our best known projects was the WIMPS (Where is My Public Servant?) project which supported young people to address local issues, and to hold those in power to account. Although the WIMPS site is down, you can view our catalogue of films made by young people here. I own the domain rights to WIMPS.tv and I am planning to re-launch the project at some stage. If you’d like to help, please let me know!
If you are interested in engaging my services, drop me a line! You can view the latest version of my CV here.