20 Nov

If Only You Knew – Stories of Change

Download “If Only You Knew” here!

Coraline, Long and Paul presenting “If Only You Knew”
to the President of Ireland (7 March 2018)

Laoise presenting “If Only You Knew”
to Minister of Employement Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty (20 Nov 2017)
Watch the video of the launch here!


On Tuesday 21st November in the DCU Library in Dublin, Maureen O’Sullivan TD launched our new short collection of stories ‘If Only You Knew – Stories of Change’ .

Discover all the pictures from the launch event here!

The event was the opportunity to mark the International Day for Tolerance (16 November) and the Universal Children’s Day (20 nov).

In collaboration with participants ATD captured the stories of over 30 people who illustrated a “key moment” in their lives. The stories take the form of narratives, poems, songs, and all give voice to an experience where the person exhibits the strength that helps them through the challenges they face living in poverty and social exclusion.

As part of the 2017 Stop Poverty Campaign (see below), ATD Ireland run this storytelling project. Each month from March to August 2017, ATD held sessions where volunteers could share these stories and listen to the stories of others. These sessions were an opportunity to encourage each other to ‘build one’s stories’.

The project “Stories of Change” creatively provided a platform for members and volunteers of ATD’s network to write a story illustrating their life experiences. Publishing a book of these stories validates the experience of people whose voice is often not heard or valued.

Marking the International Day for Tolerance (16 November) and the Universal Children’s Day (20 nov).

Tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference. It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our diversity of forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities made up of different people. The stories collected in “If only you knew” invite to improve our skills for Tolerance and are many messages of hope and encouragement told by those who have experiences of hardship and difficulties.
The stories have been written and collected with hope it will help us all to come together and prepare with our children a better future for people and the planet. ATD welcomed the fact that the launch takes place at the occasion the Universal Children’s Day!

The ATD 2017 Stop Poverty Campaign goes on with a call on the People of Ireland. The Irish Government is currently in the process of evaluating the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2017 and aims to publish a new Anti-Poverty plan in 2018. ATD aims to bring everyone who wants to make a difference together, all stakeholders: public bodies, teachers, trainers and researchers, corporates and services, youth groups and pensioners, and the people who fight against the poverty and stigma that they experience. The ATD call is accessible at www.werareone2017.org

Stories of change from all around the world collected by ATD international can be discovered here!

13 Nov

Let’s be grateful to our trustees! Ireland’s first Trustees’ Week

Ireland’s first Trustees’ Week takes place from November 13-17.  ATD volunteers and staff members from the ATD International volunteer corps are happy to mark the week, being organised by the Charities Regulator, The Wheel, Charities Institute Ireland, Dóchas, the Carmichael Centre, Boardmatch Ireland and Volunteer Ireland.

By celebrating Trustees’ Week we aim:

  • To celebrate and thank our trustees for the key role which they play in the governance and administration of ATD Ireland;
  • To highlight the importance of good governance of boards and raise our awareness about the need of thorough knowledge of trustees’ roles and responsibilities, education and upskilling of trustees;
  • To discuss with many members and friends of ATD with the hope that new trustees may come forward in the future. Each year at our AGM in May, the board welcomes new directors!

At the occasion of Irish Trustees’ Week, meet our Board!

Marie Williams
I’m is the director of the Dominican Justice Office, where I coordinate a peer-support project and network for women seeking asylum in Ireland and who live in the Direct Provision system. I hope my extensive experience in community development and project management in the area of intercultural integration, human rights and anti-racism supports the work of ATD Ireland. I’m passionate about Restorative Justice, Mediation and Conflict Intervention, and for over seven years was a Board member of Facing Forward, a voluntary organisation that promotes restorative practices, with a focus on serious crime. During this time, I worked as researcher for the report ‘Sexual Trauma and Abuse: Restorative and Transformative Possibilities?’, a joint initiative between UCD and Facing Forward.

Isabelle Pypaert Perrin
I’m native of Belgium. I joined the ATD International Volunteer Corps in 1981 and have since worked in many different countries in addition to Belgium. I helped build ATD local projects in a number of different cultural contexts in Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Particularly formative for me was the opportunity to be in ATD founder Joseph Wresinski’s personal assistants team for several years. Through my work with him, I saw how ATD’s people-centred work grows, person by person. I first joined the ATD International Leadership Team in 2008 and in 2012 I was asked by dedicated Committee of members of ATD to take the role of International Director General.

Juliette Péchenart
I am a French national who has been living and working in Ireland for nearly forty years. I retired from Dublin City University in September 2017 where I lectured in French and Business Ethics through French and chaired various BA’s. I started volunteering with ATD Ireland in 2015 as I was already familiar with the meaningful work of ATD in France. I’m inspired and humbled by the people I meet through ATD Ireland. In 2017 I was involved in the ‘If only you knew – Stories of change’ project. This is such a powerful testimony of courage, dignity and hope in the face of exclusion and adversity.

Gerald Doherty (Chairperson)
I have been involved with ATD International in Ireland since 2001, and I joined ATD’s Board in 2009 when the charity ATD Ireland was eventually registered in Dublin. Originally a biochemist, I became increasingly interested in social justice issues from the mid-1980s. I spent 15 years in the Dublin Simon Community as a part-time and full-time volunteer. In 1994 I gave up biochemistry to become a community worker. Since then, most of my work has been in the Dublin 1 area. I believe very strongly that we need to work towards economic and social equality, and that we have to collectively change how we live if we want to stay on this planet. I think the first step in all of this is to deepen democracy: that means always looking for new ways to give people a say in the decisions that affect them.

Hugh Frazer
I spent most of my career working to combat poverty and social exclusion and promote community development. I’m really passionate about achieving a more inclusive, just, sustainable and equal society. I started as a community worker in Belfast, later I became director of both the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust and the Combat Poverty Agency. Today I serve as an expert in the European Commission and coordinator of EU-wide networks of experts on poverty and social policy. I have written extensively about poverty, community development and community relations and I train students as adjunct professor in Maynooth University. In my spare time (when I find it) I paint.

Martin Byrne (Secretary)
I’ve been involved for the past thirty years as a Christian Brother in community education in Dublin’s inner city. My interests include being a Presidents Awards Leader, a participant in the North Wall Folk Group and being a regular, slow jogger. For the past twenty years, in collaboration with the North Wall community, we have annually published books of local stories in an urban, contextual theology genre. Besides acting as a Board Member with ATD Fourth World Ireland, I serve on the Advisory Committee of the Margaret Alyward Centre for Faith and Dialogue.

Gary Broderick
I am the father of 2 amazing girls. I have worked in the field of addiction for 25 years as a counsellor, a lecturer and a manager. I’ve chaired and sat on Boards since 1988, working with Credit Unions, family support projects, addiction projects and ethics committees. I believe that kindness and flexibility are central to a good service and that we are ultimately all working to heal the damage that poverty and trauma cause. I strive to build community responses filled with gentleness, laughter, fun and just a little bit of audacious creativity… oh, and of course, proper governance!

10 Nov

A Major Step for the Recognition of a Socio-Economic Ground of Discrimination

In June 2017, Deputy Jim O’ Callaghan and Deputy Fiona O’ Loughlin
introduced a Private Bill in front of Dáil Éireann to amend the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000 by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of a person’s social and economic background.

After an adoption of this first step in June 2017, the “second step” debates took place in the Parliament on the 8th and 9th November 2017 and the The Dáil divided in this way: Yes 85; No 48; Abstained.

This is an historic step forward gained mainly by activists and volunteers from the  “Equality and Rights Alliance” which published in 2016 ‘An analysis of the introduction of socio-economic status as a discrimination ground’, a report examining the existence and use of the ground in equality law and policies across Europe.

Follow all the Dáil Éireann proceedings here!

On the very same day, All Together in Dignity Europe published a position paper to call for an all EU recognition of the “socio-economic ground” in national and European equality and anti-discrimination laws.

02 Nov

A Place of Freedom: ATD UK Frimhurst Family House

“Surviving a life in poverty is getting harder and harder as Government policies become more punitive and divisive. This creates feelings of fear and insecurity, it drains your energy and can make you ill. Having a place to go to where we are not judged, can dare to trust the people around us and be free to be ourselves is a lifesaver. Frimhurst gives us strength to carry on, knowing we are not alone in our struggles.”

Moraene Roberts, ATD activist and volunteer
in ATD UK National Leadership Team

“What can I do to actually help put things right? To which the answer we gave was, to spread the word, let people know that poverty does exist.”

Eric Knibbs, ATD activist and volunteer
at Frimhurst Family House


“Frimhurst: A Place of Freedom” is  a new ten-minute film celebrating the work of ATD in the Frimhurst Family House.  Over the past 60 years the House became a sanctuary where families struggling under the weight of poverty can rebuild their lives in dignity, free from stigma and discrimination.

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Surrey is a Victorian manor house set in a tranquil woodland park. For 60 years, families struggling under the weight of poverty have found acceptance at Frimhurst.

At Frimhurst, families living in poverty can enjoy a wide range of activities alongside others in similar situations. Frimhurst is a place to share experiences, develop supportive relationships and form new long-term friendships. This network of support is essential in recognising and building upon the strengths of a family, while working alongside them in overcoming the challenges they face and promoting societal change.

Persistent poverty has a devastating impact on all aspects of family life.

At Frimhurst, ATD UK promotes the wellbeing of the whole family in a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental environment. The respite breaks, capacity building projects, skill-sharing and volunteering opportunities are designed to help the whole family build confidence, learn new skills, explore their creativity and create happy memories. Many who stay at Frimhurst go on to become anti-poverty advocates and spokespersons for ATD at a local, national and international level.

The film features the voices of people with first-hand experience of poverty and of parents, who have lived or stayed at Frimhurst. They speak from the heart about why Frimhurst Family House, the location of ATD’s residential programme, is such a unique and important place. They highlight the importance of creating a safe supportive and non-judgemental environment for the whole family… somewhere away from the day-to-day pressures and anxieties of a life in poverty.

Made to mark the sixtieth anniversary of Frimhurst Family House, Frimhurst: A Place of Freedom was produced for ATD UK by journalists and film-makers Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita.

Discover also… the story of Mary Rabagliati, the member of the ATD volunteer corps, who first met Grace Goodman, the founder of Frimhurst Family House. She was the first British person to join All Together in Dignity in 1962, at the age of 20.