I am delighted to welcome you to our website, and hope that you will have a good look round at everything we are doing.
I joined IARS in February 2020, and was delighted to take on the mantle for this new stage of our organisation’s development. It was the IARS values that attracted me to the role – the idea of giving everyone the ability, and the responsibility, to have their say about how their society is run, through open, constructive and restorative dialogue is something that I believe passionately in. Having worked in the voluntary sector for 20 years with many groups who are at the edges of society, I believe that decision-making should be done at the lowest possible level, by those who are affected or who have most at stake. As the Aboriginal saying goes: “nothing about us, without us is for us.”
The issues that we cover may seem to have little in common, for example gender-based violence and digital entrepreneurship; youth empowerment and protecting cultural heritage; but to me they sum up the commitment to a particular way of working – user-led and a bottom-up approach – and also a commitment to providing equality of opportunity, whether that’s to enter the labour market in a world where youth unemployment is rising, or knowing that you have a voice, and how to use it.
We recognise the interconnectedness of people and planet, and how inequality of access, voice and opportunities affects us all. We believe that we are stronger together, and that the best solutions come when all stakeholders are engaged together and take collective responsibility. An important part of our work is to tackle stereotypes and the damaging effects that stereotypes or misplaced assumptions can have on us as a society, whether that is around gender, sexuality, race, nationality, age or disability.
IARS responds to the needs of marginalised groups by being led by them – it is more about the process of taking ownership of the issue we are collectively trying to solve and finding creative solutions than the particular issue in itself. Although the focus of our work may change, our work will always be about providing equality of opportunities through training, youth-voice campaigning and evidence-based research.
Whether you are interested in collaborating with us through research; would like to make the most of our training, or want us to help your organisation evaluate its impact; I welcome your interest and hope that we can work together to forge a safer, fairer and more inclusive society.