Giving a voice to the voiceless, Future Voices Ireland aims to level the playing field, providing those from the most marginalised and dysfunctional backgrounds with the tools and knowledge needed to build their self-esteem.
Despite the various economic and educational improvements in Ireland in the last 30 years, a simple fact remains – your place of birth and where you live continue to dictate the scale of your opportunities. A young person growing up in the postcode of Dublin 6, for example, is over 6 times more likely to participate in third level education compared to their counterpart in Dublin 17, despite the fact that they are living less than 10km apart. Often young people growing up in these most marginalised backgrounds experience low self-esteem, poor support networks and have little hope for the future. This type of inequality severely diminishes their ability to identify the opportunities they have to build a better future.
Growing up in Derry, and raised in a turbulent household, Mairead and her siblings had a difficult childhood. It was this upbringing, in part, that later led to her brother’s suicide, a life-changing event that inspired Mairead to establish Future Voices Ireland, an organisation committed to empowering and supporting young people in disadvantaged communities. Giving a voice to the voiceless, Mairead hopes to level the playing field, providing those from the most marginalised and dysfunctional backgrounds with the tools and knowledge needed to build their self-esteem. Delivering programmes aimed at young people between the ages of 13 and 18, Future Voices Ireland provides participants with weekly interactive debates and talks from inspirational figures and prominent Irish leaders, reinforcing the learnings from these discussions through summer work placements.
So far, Future Voices Ireland has worked with more than 80 students from some of Ireland’s lowest performing schools. Already, programme participants have begun to demonstrate enhanced leadership capabilities; securing positions on Government advisory panels, and producing award winning human rights documentaries on the challenges facing their communities. Future Voices Ireland has established an impressive 85% completion rate with those participating in their programmes, and is hoping to increase the number of students involved significantly over the coming 12 months. Ultimately, Mairead is working to ensure that Ireland is a truly inclusive society, valuing the voices and views of all of its citizens, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds.
The real impact of SEI has been in helping us ground our fantastic work in a professional framework.