Robin is lead editor of openSecurity, part of the online global publisher openDemocracy. He advises the Council of Europe on intercultural dialogue, including its Intercultural Cities project with the European Commission. He helped to draft the White Paper on the subject, Living Together as Equals in Dignity, launched by the 47 member states in May 2008. He also contributed to the drafting of the 2005 policy framework on ‘community relations’ in Northern Ireland, A Shared Future, having been for several years a member of the Community Relations Council and chair of its policy committee. He was for 11 years director of the think tank Democratic Dialogue, which he founded in 1995 in the aftermath of the paramilitary ceasefires. Previously, he was editor of the current affairs magazine Fortnight.
Ian has spent 30 years working in social housing, starting with the NI Housing Executive in various departments before becoming involved in the Housing Association movement, where he is now the Group Chief Executive of the Oaklee Homes Group. He has been closely involved with the development of affordability initiatives including Oaklee Enterprises Ltd., development of over 25 joint partnerships for supported housing, greater involvement of tenants in meaningful participation and improving community relations. He initiated Oaklee Housing Trust in the Republic of Ireland and ‘housing without borders’ to meet all types of community needs. He is on the boards of Extern and Disability Action NI, as well the committees of both the Housing Associations’ NI Council and their Charitable Trust.
Liz is a policy officer at Law Centre (NI) where she works primarily on employment and immigration issues. She previously worked as a caseworker at Refugee Legal Centre in Birmingham. She plays an active role in the Refugee Action Group and is very enthusiastic about the Belfast Friendship Club! She has an LLM in Human Rights Law. Liz recently travelled to Sudan with a team of exchange participants from south Belfast … and loved every minute of it!
Paula has worked for the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) for 8 years. Her work involves the design and delivery of professional development training for primary and post-primary teachers.This has a particular emphasis on fostering positive attitudes towards diversity and inclusion while also developing skills and strategies for constructively challenging prejudice and discrimination. A key element of Paula’s work also involves development of an International Peace Education network linking academics, education practitioners and organisations dedicated to developing integrated education in parts of the world which have experienced sustained ethnic conflict. Paula spent a number of years teaching overseas, including 3 years as a teacher trainer in a College of Education in northern Nigeria. Paula currently sits on the steering group for Cambodia Youth for Change. She has an MSc in psychology.
Asma is originally from Sudan. She studied general media there and then travel and tourism in the Emirates Airlines College, working in this field for eight years. She has lived for three and a half years in Ireland, north and south. In Belfast she has volunteered with the Falls Women Group, ACSONI, NICRAS, Bryson House and Barnardo’s and she is an active member of Amnesty International. She has renewed her studies with the Open University and is a writer, with a book in Arabic in train for publication.
Yusuf is currently undertaking a PhD in the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast. Prior to that, he worked as pharmaceutical analyst at Almac Pharma Services in Craigavon for just over a year. He previously worked as data analyst at DHB Capital in London. Yusuf has been involved in a number of community-development initiatives in London, including the London Somali Youth Forum where he helped support and empower young Somalis through promoting equality, representation, counselling and mentoring.