Author Archives: Ashleigh

“We need more mentors!”

A great problem to have! The uptake for our RISE mentoring at Mount Carmel Secondary School in Dublin tripled from 5 last year to 15 this year.

“I know how to set goals for myself that I can achieve.”

“Mentoring was amazing, motivating and fun!”

“I thought it was going to be boring, but it was fun, enjoyable and interesting.”

That 15 of the 36 girls who completed the RISE leadership programme before Christmas have asked for mentoring demonstrates their enthusiasm and commitment to their school and local community and to their own development. As mentors, we have an exciting opportunity to help guide and encourage these 16-year-olds to reach their goals which range from developing a comprehensive CV to finding a way to connect with their local community groups and build a strong social network.

We are grateful for the students from IBI (our office neighbours) who have volunteered to be mentors.

In the first session we help the students to focus on identifying a clear and specific goal they want to work towards and some of the steps that will help them get there. What we have noticed is that not only are they getting some guidance from us but we have seen a lot of additional help coming from the other mentees, their peers,  who often have fascinating insights into the challenges they are facing.

“I’ve learned that there are more opportunities available than I thought to reach my goal.”

“I learned that it is good to create steps to your goal to make it more realistic.”

“Planning things out is less stressful.”

It is a joy for us to see students begin this mentoring journey unsure of what will happen and already by the end of week 1 see them excited and more confident in what they want to achieve. One girl’s response to the end of the first session was that she, “learned how to plan and visualise realistic goals,” with many others commenting that they felt more confident as a result of participating in the mentoring session.

We look forward to seeing how these student’s journey’s progress over the weeks ahead!

 “Mentoring opened my mind to seek help with applying for courses.”

“I know where to ask now to get help with my goal.”


Join our team for Santa Dash this December

This Sunday, on a freezing cold December morning we have an amazing team of people running along a beach dressed as Santa, helping us raise money for teenagers in Dublin.


We believe that teenagers across Dublin can make a difference in their communities. Our RISE Leadership and Mentoring programmes, which develop teenagers’ leadership skills are growing and we need your help to continue that growth. Over the last few years, we have worked with hundreds of teenagers in a variety of schools and youth programmes and now we want to expand our service to reach even more teens across Dublin and beyond.SD2013

As we work to develop RISE into an online resource we need you to partner with us. We’re asking if you can  support our team as they run on December 4th as part of the Santa Dash. We want to encourage them to reach the finish line in one piece, beard still intact!

You can do this by donating on our fundraising page here and also by sharing this link with your friends and family.

Thank you for your support in helping us achieve our dream of seeing more teenagers become leaders of hope and positive change in their communities.


Step Into Summer

The long winter has finally come to an end. Summer is fast approaching and we want to help you get ready to embrace the sun!

We have the perfect opportunity for you to clear out your wardrobe and step into summer with our thrift shop bargains. We are holding this exciting fundraiser on the 10th May in St.Catherine’s church, Thomas St, D8.

We will have lots on offer including live music, personal styling, afternoon tea and a photo booth for you to display your wares (check out our facebook event here).


What are we raising money for?

Over the past year we have developed our RISE leadership program and have worked with over 100 teenagers in the heart of inner city Dublin. We have seen these groups dream about the positive change they want to see happen in their communities and be a part of seeing that dream become a reality. Through community fun days, anti-bullying video’s and advocacy for fellow students, teenagers have made a difference in Dublin .

We want to continue to see teenagers equipped to be sources of hope in their community and grow into leaders of change for those around them but we need your help to do it!

Buy a ticket here and come along on 10th May to join us in stepping into summer! (If you can’t make it on the day you can still make a donation to help us reach our target).

Run the Relay for Rise!

On the 5th May, an intrepid group of runners will take to the streets of Belfast to complete the marathon relay and we need just ONE more person to join our ranks.

Could it be you?belfast marathon

Why should you come on board with us and run the relay?

We want to collectively run 26 miles because we want as many teenagers in Dublin as possible to have an opportunity to develop their potential and to bring positive change to their community.

Over the past year we have worked with over 150 teenagers as they’ve developed their leadership skills and completed a variety of community initiative projects. These projects have included fundraising to buy toys for sick children, planning fun days for kids in their area and filming videos against bullying in schools.

We need your help to continue to see these young people flourish as the leaders we know they are. Our aim is to raise £1000 to continue the development of RISE in schools and youth projects in the year ahead.

We will provide you with all the tools you need to do this and will keep in touch with you regularly until the big event. And if you raise £200, we’ll refund your entry fee!

To find out more and to join our relay team, contact Ashleigh at


What’s been inspiring us this month

Daring Greatly on AmazonLiesel Reimer on Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

I really appreciated Brené Brown’s insight about the relationship hope has with goals and strategies. She wrote that hope happens when:

1) “We have the ability to set realistic goals,”
2) “We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes.”
3) “We believe in ourselves.”
It was really useful to read during the week leading up to teaching young people at Newpark Comprehensive School about the importance of making a plan, especially since we want to equip them to become sources of hope in their communities.


Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry - Andrew RootAshleigh Harrison on Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry – moving from a strategy of influence to a theology of incarnation by Andrew Root

Reading this I have been challenged by Roots depiction of how youth ministry has often become about influencing our young people into following certain behaviours and patterns within the Christian faith. Whether knowingly or unknowingly we have made this the focus of our youth ministries instead of focusing on living out an incarnational life, displaying Jesus as we share experiences and life with our teenagers.

He writes:

“The incarnation is not about influence but accompaniment. It is not about getting us right but bearing what is wrong with us, so that we might find that we are only right in the embrace of a God who loves so much to be with us.”


…..I was more concerned with their (the young persons) decision, behaviour or commitment than with their broken humanity that desired someone to share in their deepest sufferings through relationship.”

Too often we want to see our young people make a decision to follow Christ and subsequently display all the ‘correct’ behaviours that go along with this when all that really is needed is for us to be with them, sharing in their life as Jesus did, through their joy and suffering.

This book has encouraged me to stop and take a moment to look at where my focus is within my ministry and realign it with being someone who is looking to Jesus and his example of living alongside people in need.


Anne Baenziger on Dream Job or Dream Community an article by Curt Devine

As Millennials, we’re always seeking something better, faster, or newer. This article brings to mind the deep need for community in the midst of our perpetual yearning for transition. It also reveals the brutal reality that we don’t stick around or commit to build such community. I’m challenged to think about the sacrifices we make to build genuine community. Am I making those sacrifices? In what areas do I need to take more risks for my community’s sake? We need to insure we are devoting our time, energy, and talents to the appropriate people and things. As Christians and as leaders, we need to be “intentional with upholding connections to those that matter the most in our lives while making ourselves available for new connections.”
leaders eat last


Sam Moore on Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

I read a lot on leadership and this is one of the best books I’ve read recently. In ‘Leaders Eat Last’ Simon Sinek argues that the role of leaders is to serve people, not profits or numbers or even just their employees but society. In a very readable book he uses a combination of examples from the business world and makes the argument from how we are ‘hard-wired’ in terms of our brain chemicals to serve and to work together. This isn’t just a book on leadership, it’s an analysis of how a ‘me first’ culture is destructive and the need to move to a ‘we first’ culture. I particularly appreciated the examples of leaders and companies who have done things differently, who have focused more on service and ‘we’. Often it’s easy to see all the bad examples, we need positive examples too.

“Leaders don’t look for recognition from others. They look for others to recognise”
“A good leader will eschew the spotlight to spend time and energy to do what they need to support and protect those they serve”

What’s been inspiring you this month? We’d love to hear your thoughts….



Daring to Dream – Shauna’s Story

Daring to dream for things to change for the better as a teenager growing up in a tough Dublin community isn’t exactly the norm. For Shauna however, it is.


We have spent the last few months working with a group of local teenagers as they completed our RISE program. Shauna was one of the participants.

During the second module of RISE we ask groups to dream about the hopes they have for their community. It was at this early stage that we began to see Shauna flourish and stand out as a leader among her peers. Her passion to see younger children freed to follow their dreams and her ability to inspire others with this vision shaped the project chosen for the group to pursue. As a result they began planning a talent showcase for children in their area (read more about this here)

RISE exists to equip teenagers to become sources of hope in their community and that is exactly what we have seen in Shauna.

“Throughout RISE I’ve really matured and learnt a lot about the commitment and work involved in being a leader”Her thoughts on RISE have encouraged us greatly:

“I’ve realised that it takes a lot of organisation and a team working well together to make a change happen”

Shauna and the rest of her friends have now finished the RISE program. What is exciting is that this is not the end of Shauna’s leadership journey.

Along with the others in her team, Shauna and her friends are planning to lead their weekly youth club that consists of many of the younger kids they wanted to impact. Their desire to keep putting what they’ve learnt into practice is exciting. They have also spent time together reflecting on their experience of RISE and specifically pointing out in each other the qualities and skills they have seen develop and grow.

They are committed to being the leaders of hope they know they can be, working together to influence and inspire the next generation of young leaders in Ballymun.