Hi everyone, my name is Meibh McKinney. I have just started at CRJI as one of the Support Workers for the Health and Well-being programme in the Colinglen Office.
The Health and Well-being programme is a support and mentoring service to improve social, emotional and physical health across the wide West Belfast Area through participant led, holistic mentoring. With this, the vision of the Health and Well-being programme, “...to create an environment throughout our community where the health and wellbeing of each person is at the forefront in building a more peaceful, content and happier society where they feel more valued, listened to and understood”.
This role interested me as I believed it would give me the opportunity to use my educational background and my experience in a role that would hopefully contribute to having a positive impact on the local community. In June 2019, I graduated with BA (Hons) in Theology and History from Queen’s University, Belfast. Following this, in December 2020, I graduated with a MSc in Peace and Conflict Studies with Commendation from Ulster University, Jordanstown. I believe that my educational background has provided me with the skills and knowledge to understand both the background and sensitivity surrounding my clients and the people around me in a Communities in Transition area.
Alongside my degree, I had also been working as a Programme Officer Intern with Co-operation Ireland which has given me experience working with young people, working alongside a team and developing the Future Leaders Programme. My experience in this sector has also been developed through consultancy work with NI Alternatives where I was involved with one to one mentoring of vulnerable young people and adults through a restorative lens. In my spare time, I am also involved with the Emerging Leaders group with Rethinking Conflict in Belfast. This has given me the opportunity to explore my passions, relight my fire for activism and discuss social issues effecting mostly young people in N.I with a variety of guest speakers such as politicians and leaders of community organisations. I am passionate about giving young people a platform to have their voice heard. In April 2021, I represented the North as one of the Design Team for EYE on the Edge through Galway2020 and the European Parliament. Myself alongside a team designed the first online EYE event which was a 3-day online festival for young people. This was the first European EYE (European Youth Event) held outside of Strasbourg. EYE on the Edge gave young people an accessible platform to ask questions and debate with MEP’s on the likes of climate change, mental health, poverty and racism. There was also an opportunity for young people to show their musical talents and provide workshops to a European audience.
Moreover, one of my interests in the field is comparative peacebuilding, with my dissertation focusing on whether cross-community projects can have a positive impact on issues of national identity in Israel-Palestine using experiences in Northern Ireland as a comparison study. From June 2020, I have been working remotely as a Project Officer intern with an Israeli-Palestinian civil society peacebuilding organisation called Amal-Tikva. I am one of the four coordinators for developing a new project that will bring together young leaders from Northern Ireland and Israel-Palestine and train them future leaders focusing on the likes of sustainable peacebuilding, organisational development and leadership skills.
I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to work for an organisation that are so truly dedicated and passionate about their values of providing restorative justice services to the local area. I am delighted to be part of CRJI’s growing team.