Meet the Innovators- Conor Houston

We wanted to hear from some of the innovators in Northern Ireland ahead of FuSIon Fest. We talked to Conor Houston, who will be leading a session on Social Movements at the festival.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work in “Social good’?

One wet, cold March evening I was brought together with 30 other emerging young leaders in Belfast and asked this question “if you are the leaders of the future Northern Ireland, what do you want the future to look like?” That evening a movement called ‘Young Influencers‘ was born. Myself and a number of other young leaders took up the mantle to answer this question and formed a steering team.

Young Influencers created a space in Northern Ireland for young people from across the political divide in Northern Ireland to come together to set out their vision for the future. The group’s mission was to Grow the Good that existed in Northern Ireland and Build the New based on their 2030 vision “By 2030 Northern Ireland will be one of the greatest places in the world to live, work, create and visit”.

This collective had meet-ups, developed projects and connected positive, passionate like-minded people together who were United in their belief that there was a brighter future for all in Northern Ireland.

The Steering Team were fundamental to the development of the group and its ethos – it was a safe space for diverse opinions but united in our 2030 vision for the place we called home. It connected the change agents across Northern Ireland.

The incredible connections and ideas lead to incredible opportunities. The connections made changed each of our lives and Young Influencers was the catalyst for so many new projects and collaborations.

I gave up practice as a lawyer to dedicate himself full time to finding solutions to the complex problems we face. I am now a Consultant with the Centre for Democracy & Peace Building based in Belfast which is working to complete the peace process, change attitudes, build a normal society and share our experience with others in conflict (including Colombia!). I develop transformative large-scale programmes which seek to empower communities and create a more peaceful, compassionate Northern Ireland.

I am also the Chair of the Ireland Fund Young Leaders. The Ireland Funds has raised over $500m over the last 40 years, supporting over 3000 community organisations across the island of Ireland. The Ireland Funds seeks to harness the power of a global philanthropic network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across the island. The Young Leaders support this work.

I am a Governor of the Irish Times Trust in Dublin.

In October 2017, I  will speak at One Young World in Bogota, Colombia on the theme of ‘Peace & Prosperity’.

How do you think Social Innovation can help Northern Irish based organisations?

Social innovation is all about collaboration – bringing together those passionate about change and empowering them with the tools to make their vision a reality. The age in which we live allows us to use technology to transform our communities. New models of collaboration will be needed to make this happen.
What interests you in FusionFest?
I am excited about engaging with like-minded passionate people – FusionFest is all about building these relationships.
What and who inspires you?
I am fortunate to work with exceptional people at CDPB who every day use their passion to make a positive contribution to our society. I am inspired every day by those in our community quietly and courageously driving change. My family also inspire me. My mum and dad have been incredible role models for me. More recently my 2 year old nephew has been an inspiration – my work is to build a better society for him.

Fusion Fest is brought to you by Social Innovation NI in association with the Building Change Trust, supported by the Department for Communities and managed by Innovate-NI.

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