Hello, my name is Louise Irvine. As the newest member of the CRJI team my role as the Restorative trainer & advocate is to design and implement a variety of courses relating to restorative justice & conflict resolution. I'm delighted to be joining such a dedicated team who invest so much into the local communities, it’s such a great opportunity to be part of this organisation. My years of experience have allowed me to work with a variety of organisations, having come from a sporting & good relations background designing large cross-community projects in order to help build community relations, I believe this has given me the experience to really add to this establishment and help develop our community's future.
This is an exciting role for me as it allows me to merge my two passions in community work & teaching. I have a true passion for education and development may it be within schools or in the community. I have just recently returned back to Belfast after an 8-year stint working in London and Abu Dhabi. During my time abroad, I found myself move from community work into teaching, this was a natural pathway due to there not being a community framework in the UAE like there is here in Belfast. I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge of gaining my PGCE and becoming a qualified teacher. This qualification complimented the coaching & community work that I was doing in Belfast before moving abroad.
My past experience within community work spans back to 2007, regardless of the job title, good relations and sport always played a vital role. My strong believe in the power of sport and its ability to bring people together to tackle community and good relations issues lead me to complete my masters in Community, Sport & Policy of which a lot of my research was based on areas of conflict.
Sport has been used worldwide as a medium for building relations, rebuilding communities and forming lifelong friendships among participants. This area of interest is something which has influenced many directions in my own life and something I feel passionate about.
Good relations & restorative practices have also played a major part in my life from a very young age, growing up in West Belfast & playing football for Northern Ireland wasn’t always seen as an achievement. However, through the adversity it strengthened my belief in the power sport holds in uniting communities, bringing people to together with differing opinions/beliefs and celebrating what we have in common rather than how we are different. Therefore, I'm excited about the new developments ahead and to be a part of something that will hope educate our communities and enrich the lives of those for the future ahead.
My experience with teaching both nationally and international provided me the opportunity to work with a diversity of students from all cultures and backgrounds. Coming from a community-based background working in areas of deprivation and devising community-based projects within Belfast I transferred these skills and progressed into teaching where I worked in a variety of Islamic ethos-based schools. My passion to ensure that youth understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and what such a lifestyle entails is a driving force for my career choice. From my experience, I feel community workers have a remarkable influence on both the educational and personal development of the youth they work with, and with this influence comes the burden to ensure one imparts a positive influence. Therefore, its paramount that an exciting and vibrant environment in which outstanding teaching and learning is evident, promoting a positive, community-based learning environment that focuses on ensuring every participant progresses consistently and clearly values the wider social skills and academic benefits that I know restorative practices provides.
Through my experience in various types of sports development/ teaching and community-based work both locally and internationally it has helped me to realise that working within local communities is where I would like to further develop my career. Devising new activities which will stimulate interest in the use of restorative practices and its importance for human well-being, health and stability is a challenge I feel would be quite rewarding and impactful to the people I work with. I look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead.