Future Voices Ireland

Future Voices Ireland

Dublin, IrelandDublin, Ireland
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Future Voices Ireland empowers young people to break the poverty cycle through a highly intensive sustained intervention encompassing education, mentoring and support to enable them to become active and valued participants in society.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if all young people are heard, can realise their aspirations and flourish, regardless of their backgrounds.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Young people from the ‘most’ marginalized backgrounds repeat the poverty cycle-, few will complete school or higher education as demonstrated by progression rates from these areas, they do not go on to enter employment like their parents. In addition, combined with these outward characteristics, they keep quiet about inequality they and their community face, they do not believe they have a voice and have low self esteem and hopes for the future.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is a long term transformation program, a highly intensive intervention with those most marginalized, focusing on the 3 E’s: engage, empower and enable. First empowering and building the self-¬esteem and confidence. Second focusing on building the skills and personal development, focus and channeling their drive. Together with intensive mentoring and support from high level influencers, this ensures that these young people have the support needed to embark on a different path. It finally focuses on ensuring these communities can use their voices for good, as community advocates both within their communities and at a national level.

Awards

Newstalk Irish Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2015, Social Entrepreneur Ireland Elevator Award 2014, Bank of Ireland Social Enterprise Startup of Year Silver Award 2014, Ashoka Fellowship.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

As an example one young person on out programme, was about to drop out of school and had no hope for the future, no confidence and was extremely withdrawn. Three years later, since completing the programme, she is now a college student studying community development and youth work, the first in her family to complete secondary school and the first to open a bank account. She is extremely confident, has presented before Ministers, Supreme Court Judges and the Prime Minister. Her hopes are transformed and she walks with her held up high. She is on a different path in life and is breaking the poverty cycle. She also knows now, she has a voice and is no longer invisible and she is an advocate both in her community and nationally.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

There are a number of ways that our participants are better. First, they were realise their potential and are going to be the first in their family to break the poverty cycle, which in many cases has existed for generations in their backgrounds. This is through engaging with education. Secondly, their lives are better because they have more confidence and self¬esteem, which in the majority of cases, they did not possess prior to the program. Finally, and most important the young people are no longer be invisible and will have their voices heard. They will become community advocates within their communities challenging inequalities and becoming a powerful force for change and a role model within their communities. This will create a ripple effect for those coming behind them, that no matter what background they are from, they have a say over the decisions made by policy makers about them

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

First I hope to grow in terms of sheer volume of numbers, consistently doubling the number of participants on our core programmes each year. When we first started, we deliberately kept the numbers small¬ to test how the programme worked. However, now that the incredible results are starting to show, we feel the time is right to significantly expand the numbers. I would also like to expand the range of programmes we are delivering, including new projects which also attempt to solve the same core problem. We want to expand geographically into other countries including Northern Ireland.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our financial sustainability is based on a belief that society will be ultimately better off, by investing in the future of young people from the most marginalised backgrounds who have so much to give both in social and economic terms. It is this vision, which we are utilising, to form corporate partnerships with organisations which have a similar philosophy who can be part of this through providing mentoring and financial support for the future.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The repeat of the poverty cycle in ghettoised areas is an age old problem, still not tackled effectively globally. Our program is so innovative, is due to the unique combination of long term and intensive components. This means they have a purpose in life and can see the positive contribution they can make in both proceeding with their education and as community advocates. Solutions in the past did not work, due to an absence of holistic targeted support to break the cycle, localised limitations in the area and the inequality not actually being addressed, so they still didn’t have a voice.
Team

Founding Story

My life changed when my brother committed suicide by drowning after our mum died. I spent four months in a daily ritual walking the River, looking for his body. During this process—I considered the contributing factors to his death growing up in a cycle of poverty and falling through the cracks, and realized how much society had failed him. I wanted to create a programme to support those most marginalised to transform their lives and break the cycle- and have a voice. This became Future Voices

Team

Currently I run the organisation as a fulll time staff member. I have a wide circle of support of committed and passionate individuals with particular expertise all inputting into the organisation. I have a hands-on board with a mix of professional skills who closely support me- they come from a range of corporate/private, public and NGO sector professions. I also have a huge team of 50 group leaders all with different skill sets also assisting me. I have a number of volunteer coordinators providing day to day assistance including in the areas of media/social media, volunteer management and financial functions who each have respective expertise in relevant areas. Finally, I have a number of coaches and mentors who closely advise and guide me.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Ashoka

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder and CEO

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I have a long history of entrepreneurialism and I am known for my doggedness. This is demonstrated in my human rights work with Gypsies and Travellers, an extremely marginalized group. I implemented an international human rights monitoring program for the forced eviction of 400 Travellers from their own land, which became an international news story. I also wrote the first ever UN Shadow Report on their rights within the UK context and appeared before the UN in Geneva, where all my recommendations were adopted. It was a political issue and I saw it needed to be about human rights. I also noticed that there were no Traveller representatives on national and international ethnicity task forces and spent months cold¬calling securing slots.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We are based in the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, an independent state agency which has kindly provided us with office facilities. We are the only non-state organisation based inside their office. We also have a partnership with the Law Society of Ireland (the regulatory body for solicitors in Ireland) which has also generously provided us with facilities to run all of our youth programmes since 2012. We are a Partner of Gaisce President’s Award, as an operating body delivering the award.

We are currently in the process of establishing an expert advisory group which will give expertise on particular aspects of the organisation including our youth programmes and fundraising/strategic strategy.

We currently have secured funding from corporate partners including Mason Hayes and Curran (Top 5 Law firm in Ireland), IPB Insurance and Vodafone Foundation.

In terms of mentors and advisers, we have won a number of awards which have provided ongoing mentoring and advisory through me being appointed an Ashoka Fellowship and also winning a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Award both in 2014. I also was awarded the Ray Murphy award for Chief Executives, which has given me €4000 to spend on specialist leadership training and coaching.

File attachments: