Image: 
Sean Brady and Marissa McMahon

From the beginning of September 2016, PPR activists will be involved in an exciting new international project involving social change activists in Northern Ireland, the USA and South Africa.

Two of PPR’s activists, Marissa McMahon (far left) and Seán Brady have been selected for a prestigious fellowship with the Social Change Initiative and will travel to South Africa and the USA to meet with activists on the ground there over the coming year.

They plan to study and learn from the work of social justice campaigners in both countries to build a toolkit for activists based on international best practice. They will investigate housing inequalities and housing rights movements as well as other campaigns. They plan to analyse the similarities and differences in the challenges faced, study the tactics and strategies used, share their experience of participation and rights, and acquire new skills and experiences to share back home.

Both Marissa and Seán have a track record of successful community and human rights organising among some of the most marginalised people in Belfast and beyond.

Marissa lives in North Belfast and has been involved in the Equality Can’t Wait campaign for social housing and housing equality since 2008. Currently a Family Support Worker at East Belfast Mission, she is also a Director of Star Neighbourhood Centre’s Management Committee and a Governor at her local primary school Bunscoil Mhic Reachtain.

Seán Brady is a Development Worker with PPR supporting grassroots groups to monitor and campaign for the fulfilment of global human rights standards on the ground. He previously worked as a trade union organiser with UNISON and an after schools coordinator with Irish language primary school children after being one of the first people to be educated at Coláiste Feirste – Belfast’s first Irish language secondary school.

Marissa and Seán will use the joint fellowship to improve their skills and enhance their impact as activists. Both have worked for years empowering people who are homeless or living in poor housing provision to challenge decision makers to make positive change in their communities.

Both have helped to develop human rights indicators and benchmarks; monitor government performance; and campaign and lobby on the issue of persisting religious inequality in housing in North Belfast.

They will document their comparative analysis of housing campaigns locally and in South Africa and the USA through interviews with key activists and the people experiencing homelessness, inequality and exclusion in each country.

They will begin an exchange of practices, approaches and tactics between campaigners in each country to help improve and enhance activism in support of people and communities struggling with socio-economic inequality. 

Visit their blog to learn more and follow them on PPR's Facebook and Twitter page using the hashtag #socialchange!