‘How can we tackle homelessness, religious inequality and political manipulation of housing policy in North Belfast?’
This question sent us on a journey across the world looking for answers
Who We Are
| Séan Brady
Seán is an organiser with Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR) currently supporting groups campaigning on issues of housing and homeless, replicating PPR’s human rights based community organising approach in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Seán also supports the Right to Work, Right to Welfare campaign group on issues concerning access to employment and social security.
Seán studied at Meánscoil Feirste (the first Irish language secondary school in the north of Ireland) and graduated from the second class to go through the school. Being educated in a hostile political environment during the conflict without state funding or resources and an atmosphere of constant campaigning by parents, pupils and teachers inspired him to become active in campaigns for social justice. Seán went on to work in an Irish language after schools project, Ionad Uíbh Eachach, and continues to campaign for legislative rights for the Irish language speaking community today.
Seán previously worked with Coiste Na n’Íarchimí (the Committee of Ex-Prisoners) developing and delivering tour guide training as a means of employment and political expression for Irish Republican and Loyalist political ex-prisoners from Belfast, Derry and Armagh.
He left the emerging vibrant political tourism industry to work as an organiser with the public service trade union UNISON, organising low paid workers to campaign for better conditions in the workplace and better funding and services for the community and voluntary sector prior to joining PPR.
Marissa is an organiser with Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR), currently working on a unique project with the Simon Community NI to challenge homelessness using a participatory human rights based approach.
Marissa has been an activist with PPR since 2008, working on the ‘Equality Can’t Wait’ campaign – a campaign which aims to tackle homelessness and persisting religious inequality in housing provision in the North of Ireland. She became involved in this campaign through personal experience at one stage finding herself and her three day old daughter faced with the prospect of eviction. For ten years she remained involved in the campaign, lobbying at local, regional, EU and UN level.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts (2009), a Master’s degree in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion (2013), and as mother to a child in an Irish Language primary school, she has an ongoing interest in education, special needs education, and the issues surrounding Irish-medium education. She passionately believes in social and economic justice and that the most effective way of achieving it is through bottom-up mobilisation, showing people the power of their voice when they are willing to use it. Most recently Marissa was active on Repeal referendum in the south of Ireland and continues to campaign for legislative rights for women’s bodily autonomy in the north.
How We Started
We began in ‘post conflict’ Belfast, with PPR, organising homeless families in a toxic political atmosphere where unaddressed religious inequality continues to fuel power and conflict. We travelled to Capetown, Durban, Johannesburg, New York, New Jersey and Boston. As Obama was replaced by Trump, President Zuma of South Africa faced hundreds counts of corruption and Brexit laid bare the democratic deficit at the heart of the British-Irish Peace process, we were privileged to meet with inspiring people, families, activists and organisations and to realise that we were all wrestling with different versions of the same problems.
This website has been produced to introduce you to some of the lessons for action we learned along the way: principles, tactics, strategies and structures developed by amazing people to change their unequal societies.
We have harvested ideas from and would like to extend our sincere thanks to the following for their contribution:
Saul Alinsky, Marshall Ganz, Inez McCormack, Zacchi Ahmed, Hopolang Selebalo, Ms Romey, Angie Mc Manus, Frank Mc Millan, Mahmoud, Winston, Larry Gordon, Concepcion, Franz Fanon, Nigel Gibson, Gavin Silber, Elinor Mulligan, Pedro, Steve, Andreas, Charnelle Camondo, Auntie Brenda, Phumeza Mlungwana, Charlene Caruthers, Dustin Kramar, Myrtl, Cindy, Nikosikhon Swartbooi (Face), Sarita Pilay, Disha Govender, Maxine Bezuidenhout, Ntombi, Mam’ Q, Madeline, Biggy, Boaz, Noam Chomsky, Vida Urbana, National Domestic Worker Alliance, Witness, Ndifuna Ukwazi, East Brooklyn Congregations, S.A.D.S.A.W.U, Jersey City Together, NASHO, Manhattan Together, AIDC, BUILD, Reclaim the City, Damayan, Langa Town Ship, Carroll Gardens Association, Kayelitsha Town Ship, We Won’t Wait, Stellenbosch University, Adhikaar, Equal Education, Breaking Ground, Social Justice Coalition, Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education Law Centre, Cissie Gool House, Industrial Areas Foundation, Nehemiah Housing, Martin Dunn-Dunn Developments, Tim Cunningham, Building a Catalan Republic, Workers United, and many more – each making their own contribution to a world built on equality.
We invite you to sample what we have learned and share your ideas to build a better future.