Vision from founder
I founded IARS in 2001 with the support of other young people from across Europe. The vision was to set up as a youth-led NGO to give everyone a chance to forge a safer, fairer and more inclusive society.
The journey hasn’t always been easy. However, the support that we receive has been incredible. The Institute has been providing world-class, cutting-edge educational, research, policy and networking services of local, national and international significance while improving practices in the fields of youth, equalities and justice through the lived experiences of real people.
I did not have a business plan or a clear idea about how I was going to fundraise or sustain an organisation. What I had was the support of other volunteers as well as the guiding light of three key principles upon which IARS was founded.
Professor Dr. Theo Gavrielides, IARS Founder
User & civic participation
IARS’ first value is based on our belief that strong democracies are not those that elect and maintain systems of governance that cultivate and enforce power over others, but those that truly share that power with those who need it. Society can be improved through social enterprising taking place at all levels: individual, project and organisational. However, social change cannot be done by dictating how one should participate in civic life. This is especially true for those groups that have traditionally been disenfranchised let that be our young people or the victims of our overt or explicit biases. True empowerment happens when we let go of our own power and allow its organic transition into the hands of others. Despite the risks involved, when this happens, the results can be incredible. We have seen it in the internal structures of our organisation. When we let go, the staff team, our interns and volunteers see IARS as a ‘flower pot’ with fertile soil where they can grow their ideas and projects. And it is with these flowers and with flower after flower that we believe we can make demo(δήμος)-cracy(κράτος) more meaningful and worthy of its name. User participation and bottom up approaches to society’s problems also offer something very practical which cannot be captured by ‘experts’ living in ivory towers. And that is the grounded and lived experiences of those facing the problem that we are asked to solve. Hence, our strapline “Community-led solutions for a better society”. We are particularly proud of our user led projects and indeed the user-led research methods that we have pioneered internationally as well as the infrastructure that we have developed to help individuals, projects and organisations to identify, measure and maximise their social impact.
Restorative Justice and dialogue
When we feel that we have been wronged, we tend to take the adversarial road, shut down, avenge and punish. If there is one thing that I have learned from my research and personal experiences is that contest breeds contest while the harm is never truly restored. Healing is ignored and the powerful manifest their power even more. I have championed the restorative justice values of dialogue, equality, empowerment, negotiation, forgiveness, empathy and respect throughout my academic career and I would be disingenuous if I did not to adopt them for my own organisation. I hold restorative circles for our staff meetings and I am particularly proud of our restorative justice projects.
Individual empowerment and responsibility
I see this principle as the glue for the other two. If we are to pursue a shift in power and demand a voice through participation in civic life or through dialogue in justice processes, then we must do so responsibly. This responsibility comes in many forms and in IARS’s case it is translated in the way we champion change. This has to be through evidence and the application of robust research methods. We are mindful, however, that certain truths can be discovered only through in-depth research methods and thus we have argued in favour of qualitative approaches to social problem solving. We are also responsible for our non political and independent voice and programmes. We take responsibility for the result of the work that our funders and supporters empower us to do, and we teach this responsibility to those with whom we work.
IARS policy applies to all staff, including senior managers and the board of trustees, paid staff, volunteers and sessional workers, agency staff, students or anyone working on behalf of The IARS International Institute (IARS).
The purpose of this policy is:
● to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults who receive IARS’ services. This
includes the children of adults who use our services;
● to provide staff and volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach to
safeguarding and the protection of individuals.
This notice explains what personal data (information) we hold about you, how we collect it, and how we use and may share information about you. We are required to notify you of this information under the EU GDPR regulations and other data protection legislation. Please ensure that you read this notice (sometimes referred to as a ‘privacy notice’) and any other similar notice we may provide to you from time to time when we collect or process personal information about you.