23 Feb

Linking climate action and social justice: never without, or against, people living in poverty

On March 15th 2019, join and support the Global Climate Justice Strike For Future!

On March 15, along with NGOs in 40 countries on all continents, we will support the call to the youth and all citizens of the world to join the Global Strike For Future!

Let’s show the world that the Climate Crisis is a Crisis! Let’s show the world that the demand for Justice is an Urgency!

Do link climate action and social justice!

Act on climate never without,
or against, people living in poverty!

In a context of successive international meetings about the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reducing the negative effects of global warming, ATD International has upped its advocacy to emphasize the inextricable link between climate action, sustainable development, and poverty eradication. From action and research on the ground, we have issued two memorandums and a series of short videos illustrating these links.

ATD International’s position paper, “Tailoring Climate Change Response Measures to the Needs of the Most Vulnerable” points out clearly:

“If governments fail to combat climate change with people living in poverty, it is very likely that response measures will work against these vulnerable communities.”

This statement reminds stakeholders that a framework with international consensus exists already in the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

ATD’s more in-depth memorandum, Taking seriously the commitment to “leave no one behind” in the SDGs and the fight against climate disruption, further proves the effectiveness and necessity of including people struggling daily to overcome poverty, when designing development strategies and climate action. A series of short video clips illustrate each of ATD’s five main recommendations, from reaching those deepest in poverty, to promoting green jobs and training.

From ATD’s memorandum, “Taking seriously the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’ in the SDGs and the fight against climate disruption”

Click on the photo to download the 7-page memorandum
Updates at www.facebook.com/events/
16 Feb

Melting The Middle Class Gaze

For the past 20 years, Martin Byrne, volunteer & member of the Board of ATD Ireland has been collecting North Wall stories and publishing them once a year. These stories are coming from a range of people and the book encourages people to dig deep and write down those stories that have been hidden away for so long.

This year again, Martin’s North Wall stories help us with fresh eyes to see our unfair world
differently. By reading these stories we are liable to be born anew or jolted or touched or changed. They herald a world of shared human condition, give vent to the screams of those excluded from the feast, model ways of bottom-up local transformation and they
explicate empowerment for justice.

All of the stories in “Melting The Middle Class Gaze” were written by ordinary people who have a story to tell and this book enables them to do so. “This is something that really inspired me and got me thinking. How each person we meet has a library inside of them, but too often we shy away from sharing it with anyone else. “

We are so proud of the commitments our friends and volunteers who have a text in “Melting The Middle Class Gaze“!

The book launch will take place on Tuesday April 30th at 7pm and thanks to the generosity of Lord Mayor of Dublin, Nial Ring, it will be hosted in the Mansion House, Dublin 2. If you would like to attend, please contact info@atdireland.ie.

10 Feb

Does it only happen to me? Share your story before May 31st, 2019!

From January 2019 to September 2019 ATD will carry out a project exploring the issue of socio-economic discrimination in Irish public services and in every day life.

A person’s socio-economic status is not currently recognised as a ground upon which a person might be discriminated against, under Irish equality legislation.

Share your story before the end of May 2019!

The first step of the project (before the end of May 2019) is collect anonymous real life stories to showcase how this type of discrimination or unequal treatment is unfortunately too common and needs to be recognised within legislation.

The stories collected will be published into a report that will be launched at a public event after the Summer in the IHREC Auditorium. All the stories collected and published will be kept anonymous to ensure the confidentiality of the participants.

What is socio-economic discrimination?

Discrimination is when people feel like they are being treated less favourably than others, for example, because of their age, gender, religion, ethnicity…

Today in Ireland several grounds of discrimination are officially recognised within equality legislation: it is illegal to discriminate against people because of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, civil status, family status and membership of the Traveller Community.

Since 2016, another ground has been added to cover housing assistance payments (HAP). This means that people who feel discriminated against under one or more of these grounds can bring a complaint to the relevant legal body (see www.ihrec.ie for more information on how to make a complaint).

However, ATD Ireland, along with many other organisations such as EAPN, INOU, the members of the former Equality and Rights Alliance (ERA), believe that one ground is missing from Irish legislation. That missing ground is called “socio-economic status”.

Updates from TDs 2018 initiative and the EAPN Call on this matter here
See also the ERA Campaign report

What does it mean?

Socio-economic status or background may sometimes be referred to as social class based discrimination. For instance, someone could feel like they are being treated less favourably than others by the Gardai because of where they live.

“My son was going to a football thing… And he stayed up in Crumlin in his friends… It was seven o’clock in the morning anyways and he was running through the park to get to the coach, and like that, he was stopped at the bus stop, and they searched his bag, his schoolbag… And they searched everything and like he ended up missing that, and came back to us sobbing, saying, “I done nothing wrong!” and not even that, like he was quite frightened by the whole experience. And as well as that it kind of turned him off the Guards.”

Other people recalled being treated differently at school because their families could not afford to buy school books, or how they were asked to leave class because they were not wearing the ‘right’ shoes and how they felt belittled and embarrassed by the attitude of teachers. This leads to lack of confidence that is often carryout out through adult life as well.

“Belittled… some people can make you feel very small, so you can just say ‘that’s how tall I am, so just stand up’… to belittle someone is to really put them down.”

Sadly, many have stories like these that showcase ways in which people are excluded or not treated with dignity and respect. But because socio-economic status is not covered in equality legislation, this kind of discrimination often goes unnoticed and cannot be reported legally.

Impacting the delivery of the Public Sector Duty

In addition to allowing victims of discrimination to file a legal complaint, a change in legislation will have an impact on what is called the “Public Sector Duty”. What does this mean?

The Public Sector Duty is a statutory obligation for all public bodies to work towards the elimination of discrimination, promote equality, and protect human rights in their daily work. This Duty applies to people working in public services, service users and more generally everyone impacted by policies coming from public bodies.

If socio-economic discrimination is recognised in Irish law, all public services would be obliged to take the necessary steps to ensure that their employees and service users are protected from this kind of discrimination, as is the case for the other nine grounds of discrimination currently recognised.

Where do we go from here?

We know that this change in legislation will not mean that socio-economic discrimination will disappear tomorrow, but we see this as a necessary first step in recognising that this kind of discrimination does exist and needs to be challenged if we are to live in a society which treats everybody with respect and dignity.

You want to learn more about this project
or to share a story?

We are looking for people from all around the country  to take part in this project.

If you have a real life story of a time where either you, or someone you know, had an experience of being discriminated against, and if you felt that this discrimination was because of your socio-economic status, then we would love to hear from you.

This discrimination may have taken place when dealing with a public service or in another situation of every day life!

All the stories collected and possibly published (with individual consent) will be kept anonymous to ensure the confidentiality participants.

If you are interested in taking part in this campaign to introduce an additional protection against discrimination into Irish law, then feel free to get in touch with us!

Contact us at ATD Ireland: info@atdireland.ie

telephone 01 855 8191

10 Feb

On Valentine’s Day, we remember the man who told us “Love the world!”


“We really need to be integrated in the world,
to love the world.
We cannot introduce the people marginalised because of extreme poverty into today’s or tomorrow’s world
if we are not ourselves part of it.

It is not that we are blind to human failings,
but we must constantly remind ourselves and each other that every human being deserves to be trusted,
as long as we do not have proof to the contrary.

We must welcome political discussions and the sharing of ideas, and we must love people who defend what they believe in.

Whilst not being sidetracked, we have to share in the hopes of all those who fight for a cause.

And we have to remind them constantly that people experiencing the most extreme situations of poverty have a place in their struggles and thinking.”

Joseph Wresinski in his last letter to the ATD Volunteer Corps

On 14 February 1988, 31 years ago, Joseph Wresinski passed away. He was 71.

He is the initiator of the United Nations’ #EndPoverty Day (each 17 October) and the spiritual father of the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty (adopted in 2012) and one key inspiration to implement the Agenda 2030 “Leave No One Behind” promise.

Together with French sociologist Jules Klanfer, he first introduced in 1965 and developed the concept of “social exclusion”, now a concept broadly used worldwide.

All his life, he was a strong advocate of people trapped in chronic  poverty for generations.  The “Wresinski approach” inspires new ways to fight poverty worldwide. It recognises people with experience of poverty as partners in designing, implementing, monitoring and assessing public policies.

In 1957, Wresinski  founded the NGO ATD in a slum near Paris which has become today the International Movement All Together in Dignity with 100 projects in 40 countries.

On 14 February each year, friends of ATD are invited to read and reflect on the very last address made by Wresinski. He wrote this to the long term volunteers from his hospital bed just days before his death on 14 February 1988.


Joseph Wresinski was born on 12 February 1917 to immigrant parents, detained in a French internment camp because of WW1. Later, his family suffered from chronic poverty and social exclusion in a poor neighbourhood of Angers, France.

In 1946, he was ordained as a priest and served in industrial and rural parishes where, right from the beginning, he related to the most deprived families.

In 1956, he was assigned chaplain to 250 families in a emergency housing camp in Noisy-le-Grand, near Paris. The families lived in quonset (nissan) huts erected in a muddy field. He said about his years in Noisy-le-Grand: “The families in that camp have inspired everything I have undertaken for their liberation. They took hold of me, they lived within me, they carried me forward, they pushed me to found ATD with them.”

In 1957, Joseph Wresinski and the families of the camp founded the first association which was later to become All Together in Dignity Fourth World.

Responding to the demands of the families and working with them, the soup kitchen and the distribution of old clothes were replaced with a library, kindergarden, chapel and workshop. Volunteers came to join the action and a Research Institute on extreme poverty was created to bring together researchers from different countries and disciplines.

Since its beginning the development of ATD was inspired by Joseph Wresinski’s own experience as a child in a poverty-stricken family and by his daily contacts with families in extreme poverty and members of ATD International Long Term Volunteer Corps.

Joseph Wresinski’s firm purpose was to unite all sections of society around the poorest. With this aim he met leaders of States, churches and international bodies from all over the world. Even though he was a catholic priest, he believed that every man or woman he met represented a chance for the poorest and he was determined that  ATD would remain non-denominational and open to people of all cultures, faiths, beliefs…

His appointment to France’s Economic and Social Council in 1979 was a significant step in his quest for official representation of people in extreme poverty. With the publication in France of the “Wresinski Report” in 1987, he succeeded in gaining recognition of people in poverty as partners in society. This report enabled him also to put “extreme poverty” on the Human Rights agenda.

On 17 October 1987, in the presence of 100,000 people from every social background and continent, Joseph Wresinski unveiled a commemorative stone in the Trocadero Human Rights Plaza in Paris. On this marble his call is engraved: “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”

17 October was declared “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty” by the United Nations in 1992. In several countries, each year or even on the 17th of each month, people gather for a short commemoration in honor of people who suffer from extreme poverty, and to renew their commitment to fight alongside them.

Visit also: www.joseph-wresinski.org

10 Feb

Europe Matters to End Discrimination! ATD’s Youth Group at the European Parliament!

For the two past months, All Together in Dignity prepared a delegation of 7 participants to the 15th ‘European ATD People’s University’ which took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday the 6th of February 2019. The group from ATD consisted of 7 volunteers involved in the  ATD’s Unity in the Community Youth Group (UCYG).

The UCYG was created in the summer of 2017 after an ATD European Youth Exchange in the
Netherlands. They are a group of young adults (aged between 18 – 25) who are social activists and leaders in their communities.

In 2018 the members of this group created the Ireland, I have a Dream project. Inspired by the infamous speech by Martin Luther King they created a space for young people in Dublin to find their voice as leaders and to explore the inequalities of poverty in the context of their own lives, bywriting about their dreams. Together they developed a collection of speeches, poems, raps and spoken word, in turn creating their own ‘I have a Dream’ publication. This book was successfully launched on the 6th of July last year at a joyous event in MountJoy Square which included games, spoken word, live music and speeches.

This year, the discussion in the European Parliament revolved around the input of selected groups of individuals from 9 European countries. These delegates all coming from deprived communities around the EU  took the opportunity to come together with their ideas and to both collectively and individually address MEP’s.

They had the chance to present their research, concepts and resolutions based on the 3 topics of the 2019 People’s University and to ask the EU to take action on these matters.
The topics to be addressed were:

  • the indicators of poverty and social exclusion in Europe,
  • the impact that various national and European policies have on family life for citizens in poverty,
  • and peoples legal status.

In preparation for the 2019 People’s University, ATD Ireland run first “Europe Matters”, a “Communicating Europe” supported by a grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The impact of this 2 months project is presented in the 4 pages PDF document here: ATD Europe Matters Presentation. Discover also the video produced by the project participants!

The Irish delegation joined the discussions on the impact that various national and European policies have on family life for citizens in poverty. The policy the delegation discussed is the missing “socio-economic status” as recognised ground of discrimination in the Irish Equal Status Act.

At present, within Irish law, there are 9 recognised grounds of discrimination, but we are working to try and add a tenth ground, one based on a person’s socio-economic status.

The UCYG supported by other ATD volunteers started to look at how people suffer unequal treatment based on their socio-economic background, when dealing with Irish public services and in pivate context. Personal stories from people have been collected, where they tell about times they have experienced this type of discrimination, when dealing with any public service ( be it the police, hospitals, schools, etc.) or in every day situation in the street, in shops, when looking for private renting. From having to lie about where your’e from in order to get a job to having to get people with a “better” telephone voice to represent you when dealing with services over the phone – the stories have been plentiful and unjust.

At work in Brussels, the members of the Irish Delegation tried to convince Irish European representatives and MEPs beyond Ireland of the importance of working to try and ensure this protection is written into equality legislation, so that all citizens of Europe might be better protected before the law.

Read here the draft statement the UCYG addressed to all Irish MEPs on the People’s University Day.

With the Vice-President of the European Parliament,
Mairead McGuinness MEP

With Marian Harkin MEP

With Lynn Boylan MEP

As Martin Luther King once said You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say” and so in keeping that in mind, the UCYG will continue to speak out until they are heard.

This project and the trip of the Irish Delegation have been financialy supported by the “Communicating Europe” DFAT Initiative, Maired McGuinness MEP and Lynn Boylan MEP, and the French Foundation “Fondation ATD”.