ATD Ireland 2023 review

As we begin 2024, we would like to pay reference to some of the main projects, highlights and challenges of the past year.  It was a productive and exciting year where we completed  funded projects advocating for the #Addthe10th campaign and the Sustainable Development Goals.  We supported and continued to build relationships with families and individuals experiencing poverty.  We have continued to build a strong activist voice through peer support, friendships and public presentations and workshops. We continue to work to achieve our Strategic Goals 2023- 2027 set out below.  Thank you so much for the continued support and here’s to a bright and impactful 2024.

Goal 1. Deeper Engagement with people living in persistent poverty

Family Support– We continued our family support work this year- which was greatly supported by the volunteer work of Sr Bernadette and volunteer corps members Stuart and Isabelle and we managed to visit some new families from within our network. It was a difficult year for many families due to personal struggles but also external pressures due to the housing and cost of living crisis.  We navigated new and challenging conversations surrounding deepening exclusion and division.  

Chooseday Tuesday Open House Days

We continued our open office days every Tuesday in 2023.  We tried out many new, fun workshop ideas such as baking, paper mache and different arts and crafts projects.  We also began to understand how the Chooseday Tuesday structure did not necessarily suit everyone and so we experimented with keeping Tuesdays as a more open house day where we had space to work on a variety of projects.   We also made efforts to have more open days such as on Mondays and Fridays and prioritized activist led workshops- such as Paul’s fitness sessions.  We also made efforts to do more outings, which we hope to continue.  Some highlights from the year included our St. Patrick’s Day gathering, bowling outing for our community activists and our outing to Dun Laoghaire.

We also had the opportunity this year to take a deep dive into the homelessness services this year.  Through the input and ideas of our activists we began to think about developing a resource that everyone can access which could help others access these often difficult to navigate services.

Through our Leave No One Behind series 3 project we gave a platform to share the voices of those who experience discrimination and exclusion from groups across Ireland.

Poverty talks– Building relationships and a dialogue with those in academia has been an important feature of the work in 2023, and this project in collaboration with Dr Joe Whelan who has become an important ally has been a significant moment in this process.  This was also an important moment in promoting the idea of participative working and gaining more recognition of the multidimensional nature of poverty.

Poverty Aware Practice– We did four sessions of our poverty aware practice this year in Trinity College and for the first time with Galway University.   The two Galway sessions in April and November were positive and exciting to branch outside of Dublin for the first time.  The university funding our travel and accommodation was a big support and enabled us to make it an enjoyable outing for the activists also beyond delivering the session.  This year also showed us that we have the potential to deliver these sessions with a smaller and larger panel of activists.  The module continues to progress as the activists continue to develop their own thoughts and ideas.  There is scope to rework and develop the slides before our next session with some new material. 

Pathways to Participation– We have many potential pieces of poetry and writing collected for our new Coalition 2030 project.  Community activists had an opportunity to read their poetry on the radio through a project we were invited to be involved in.    

17th October – We had a very successful October 17th this year and really positive feedback from all involved. Highlights included the participation of activists in the Committee meetings, in conceptualising the theme, visual and the common gesture.  Further, the attendance of Joe O’Brien was an important achievement.  In 2024 we will continue to make more efforts into ensuring the inclusion and attendance of family members and Community Activists.

Through participation in European and international advocacy events we saw great development in confidence and learning in community activists who took part, who became more comfortable speaking out.

2. ATD Ireland will continue to support existing partnerships, and build new ones, with community groups, civil society organisations, anti-poverty networks, institutions and public bodies that share its priority aim for the eradication of persistent poverty through challenging perceptions and the public narrative on poverty, advocating for positive policy changes, and building together a better society for all.

Networking and Partnerships– Our main projects this year have also been strongly motivated by building partnerships- i.e., LNOB series 3, Breaking Barriers and Pathways to Participation.  We began the year by attending the Leave No One Behind National Stakeholder Forum in January.  We continued to contribute to community platform meetings where possible, beginning with Community Platform Plenary. We contributed to a new community platform poverty working group bringing the voice and expertise of people with lived experience of poverty to a Consistent Poverty paper.   We supported partnership events this year including annual report launch events for IHREC and FLAC, ILMI’s Strategic Plan Launch.  We also attended the Coalition 2030 Plenary in December.  Coalition 2030 fund Pathways to Participation our new poetry and writing project- which also features contributions from other pillar members.  It is valuable to network and build connections at these events, support the important work and actions of our partners, gain inspiration and learn to improve our own work. 

A really positive moment was our presentation at the FRC national forum in Tullamore. It was an important event in networking and discovering our shared visions of community development with the FRC’s.  

17th October also continues to be an important partnership event and we really appreciated the support of the Committee in making it such a successful event at the Poverty Stone this year.  Building connections with 17th October grantees has been really meaningful and we hope to continue to work with many of these groups through ATD Ireland projects in 2024.  Thank you to the Department of Social Protection for funding 17th October again this year and Dublin City Council for the support.

Leave No One Behind Conversation Series 3: We successfully completed another Concern funded LNOB conversation series.  We made and sustained important new connections particularly with local community (and national) organisations, such as DALC, Pavee Point, Dominican Justice Office, SAOL and Matt Talbot, and family resource centres.  We tried something new with our methodology, using creativity and painting.  We also took a fresh and progressive angle through looking at positive practice and actions that work to support people.   We had a really positive and uplifting launch event at Mud Island Community Gardens in July which was a significant highlight from the year.  Different groups came and mingled together and shared their artwork.  We did not have a clear aim for the project this time and there was some differentiation in how we conducted each of the workshops- so there is scope to improve for Leave No One Behind Series 4.

A really positive moment was our presentation at the Family Resource Centre national forum in Tullamore. It was an important event in networking and discovering our shared visions of community development with the FRC’s.  17th October continues to be an important partnership event.

#Addthe10th– The #Addthe10th campaign continued to expand and grow this year.  We were delighted to hear of Community Action Network joining the #Addthe10th alliance.  While we focused less intentional efforts on the jigsaw piece social media campaign, this still continued to grow and we gained increasing community support, for example from Westport FRC.  The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) bill 2021 reaching the second stage was a significant milestone in the campaign and the #Addthe10th alliance were invited to view the debate within the Dail.  Despite being voted down on this occasion we remain hopeful that socio- economic status will be recognised in the future alongside more broad sweeping improvements to the equality legislation.  Further, July saw Minister O Gorman publish the report on submissions to the review of the equality legislation. When speaking at the 17th October event this year, Minister Joe O Brien restated their commitment to introducing and SED ground.  At the end of this year Minister O Gorman confirmed that his department were finalising policy and legislative proposals, including the introduction of a new SED ground, which would be brought to government in the new year. 

Breaking Barriers– We produced a good quality report in October for our IHREC funded project on defining socio- economic discrimination.  We successfully developed materials which enabled us to continue to raise awareness of the experience of socio- economic discrimination and promote the #Addthe10th campaign.  We developed new knowledge and deepened the framework for looking at SED.  It was also important to catalogue all the work on the #addthe10th campaign over the past three years.  We were also learning how to strike the balance between encouraging participation, but also respecting the work and personal insights that our activists have already contributed and not repeatedly burdening them without reason.  We successfully sent the report to relevant government departments and ministers.  This project was successful in allowing us to gain new contacts particularly within academia, the community and voluntary sector and we greatly appreciated the support of #Addthe10th alliance members.  We formally launched the report on October 17th during our Breaking Barriers exhibition at EPIC- CHQ Building.  Thank you to EPIC for hosting our exhibition!

We took part in several European advocacy events this year, and we appreciated the invitations by ATD Europe.  In February, we attended an ATD meeting with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna alongside other ATD Europe teams.  This meeting featured an intervention from Community Activist Lorraine.  The aim of this meeting was to ask the FRA to conduct a study on the topic of socio- economic discrimination- which we did not unfortunately get a commitment from the FRA to carry this out.  In April we took part in the youth Study Session at the Youth Centre of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.  In June Community activists Christina and Andrew spoke at an EU Webinar on socio – economic discrimination also featuring presentations Olivier DeSchutter, Claire Hedon French Defender of Rights and MEP Marie Toussaint, facilitated by EAPN.  These events were significant for progressing equality and rights legislation across Europe and supported our goals in combatting discrimination and achieving #Addthe10th here in Ireland.  It is meaningful to be part of moments when new doors are opened for ATD Europe and to build new partnerships and connections.   It was also a learning experience in how to navigate and support community activists when these events are not wholly positive experiences and being prepared for potential setbacks. In October Community Activist Christina also spoke at a Social Platform Over the Poverty Line Event on Minimum income at the European Parliament in Brussels.  This gave us the impetus to spend time working on this topic and building collective evidence from our community activists.  This was timely and supported by the volunteer work of Sr Bernadette and her expertise in this area through her work on the MESL research with the VPSJ.  We hope to continue to work with institutions and over time build more successful mechanisms for genuine participation.  

Goal 3: ATD Ireland will increase and develop the involvement of young people in its community life and work.

In April we took part in the youth Study Session at the Youth Centre of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, with the Irish delegation working on the topic of discrimination and harassment.  – Building our partnerships, this was an important event in expanding the youth dynamic in Ireland.  We really value the collaboration with Bradóg Youth and to continue to welcome Bradog young people as members of the ATD Community.   

We really appreciated the support from all of our interns and volunteers this year, particularly as we had a much smaller full time team after May.  They brought increased, capacity, knowledge and creativity to our work.  Through hosting a TY work experience student for the first time we found a new possible avenue to reach young people.

Goal 4: ATD Ireland will develop its fundraising capacity and a donor base

Funding and Grants– We continued to seek local grants this year.  Successful grants this year included from FORSA, Reach and NEIC.   We received funding to carry out LNOB series 4 from Concern.  Our ‘Cycling For Change- Breaking the cycle of poverty’ event was a successful fundraising event organised largely by Maurice from the working group to ‘Raise the profile and funding capacity of ATD Ireland’. Further, we also raised funds yet again through our annual carol singing.  Thank you to all who continue to financially support our work!  We launched our annual Christmas appeal in December and continue to put ongoing investment into our fundraising efforts.

Social Media and Profile Building: We produced two high quality films this year for our Breaking Barriers and LNOB projects and a third through the poverty talks project in collaboration with Joe Whelan.  Public events and partner events allowed for good opportunities for networking and to gain new support.  Social media has continued to be an important tool to connect with others and gain new opportunities.

Our public events such as the Festival Of Change were a good opportunity to get to know new people interested in supporting the work of ATD Ireland.  

ATD Ireland with it’s supportive board of directors continue to improve our overall governance, with the development of a new document fleshing out our Strategic Goals and vision.

We would like to thank our team of community activists for the inspiring work done throughout 2023 and we recognise the extraordinary strength and courage invested in this work.

Thank you to all of our friends and supporters for the generous and ongoing support.