I grew up in Northern Ireland during what was called ‘The Troubles’. The Troubles, in my view were underpinned by social inequality, gerrymandering bias and division. I was born into the Irish nationalist tradition and the Civil Rights movement was very active in my area. My father was one of the local founding members of NICRA. This mission for equality followed me and influenced a large portion of my work history.
Having had enough of societal division I worked for a time in an Anarchist bookshop in Belfast, and upon moving to England I worked in the Voluntary sector in the UK’s first Employment Resource Centre which was set up on the Pepys Estate in South East London, an area of great need and little hope. Our mission was to work closely with the community, identifying needs in terms of employment, education and training and attracting funding in order to facilitate those needs. I worked in that project for ten years, I was also a resident of the estate during that time.
Upon returning to the north of Ireland in 2000 I retrained as a counsellor having had reason to seek help with an alcohol issue. I became a registered member of BACP and worked in a residential rehab centre for a number of years as a Counsellor and also as a Facilitator of group therapy. I also worked with the homeless street drinkers in Belfast for a number of years and also with a project in the West of the City whose job was to improve the mental health of the community, a community with grave suicide and trauma rates. I have experience too of working with a dedicated suicide awareness project that was set up to try to tackle the huge number of suicides in Northern Ireland.
Recently I have been very much involved with a meditation group from the Zen centre in Belfast. I became interested in that after seeing positive outcomes with addicts and people with suicidal ideation. I have completed a qualification in meditation from Monash University in Australia and I have a daily meditation practice. I am currently working with groups of addicts online and hope to continue this type of work.