“I’ve discovered that things are a lot harder to change than I previously thought. There’s a great power imbalance in Ireland and that needs to change.” – Martha Griffin

POSITION: Community Development Worker

Martha Griffin has worked for the Rathmines Pembroke Community Partnership for three and a half years. Previously, she studied Legal Studies and Taxation. Last year she spoke publicly about her experience of mental ill health and recovery as part of the ‘See Change’ campaign.

  1. What are you reading at the moment?

The Artists Way: A 12-week course on finding your inner artist.

  1. Who is the person you most admire?

Mary Robinson for the energy she put into issues of human rights. She was our first female president and was responsible for a great deal of the liberalisation that has taken place in this country, but she was also personable and down to earth.

  1. What are the top four issues in Ireland today?
  2. i) The need for less of a focus on economics and more focus on human issues.
  3. ii) The issues of mental health and the suicide epidemic.

iii) The environment – our lack of future proofing.

  1. iv) The breakdown in communities and the gap between the rich and the poor.
  2. Nationally we need more?

Good news – a positive unbiased media that reports with less of an economic obsession.

  1. Nationally we need less?

Negativity and … less rain. I’m a gardener so maybe I shouldn’t give out about the rain.

  1. How and why did you get involved?

I was volunteering at an event in Tralee and I met with the RAPID co-coordinator and I questioned her about her role. I always had an interest in social justice as I originally studied law but found that the law was being used as a sword rather than a shield and there was an elitism in the profession. After that conversation, I applied for the community and youth work course in Maynooth. I’ve a huge interest in  the area of disability and mental health.

  1. What difference has it made to you being involved in Community Development?

I’ve garnered a more realistic perspective of theory versus practice. I’ve discovered that things are a lot harder to change than I previously thought. There’s a great power imbalance in Ireland and that needs to change.

  1. How have things changed since you have started?

Prior to the new Programme, communities identified their own needs, whereas now it is more prescriptive. Education and training have their good points, but we’ve discovered that they might not necessarily be core to what people need and they will not in themselves change and challenge the status quo.

  1. What motivates you as a Community Development worker?

I like that people with experience of mental distress can talk openly about it. A problem told is a problem halved and not being able to speak out about this issue can be more distressing than the experience itself.