Meet the Team
We are a team of dedicated professionals.
As co-founder of the organisation and with over 15 years experience in the role, Phyllis provides confidential advice, information and support for Survivors and their families. Phyllis leads on supporting over 5,000 Survivors who live in the UK, aiming to help, empower and offer consistent support to enable Survivors to move on from their pasts. Day-to-day, Phyllis assists Magdalene Laundry women to apply for compensation from the Irish Justice Department, supports all Survivors with their applications for benefits, pensions and compensation, and undertakes complex work in the area of family tracing and rehousing. Phyllis ensures that her support is given every step of the way, accompanying Survivors to appeals, making referrals to counselling where necessary and providing drop-ins at the Whispering Hope Centre throughout the week. Importantly, Phyllis helps bring the Survivor community together and encourages Survivors to engage with the Women’s Group and social events that take place throughout the year. Prior to her role at IWSSN, for 30 years Phyllis was a licensee, running various pubs across London. A survivor herself, Phyllis moved to the UK when she was 19 and was inspired to get involved with IWSSN because she understood how Survivors felt about their histories, and understood what steps could be taken to put things right. Phyllis felt lucky because she got on with her life. Although Phyllis herself managed to move on, many other Survivors still live with the pain of the abuse they suffered. Understanding the system of institutional life, Phyllis wanted to help like-minded people.
Deirdre has been supporting the Irish community living in the UK for several decades and has built a rich career in welfare work. For IWSSN, Deirdre leads in providing practical support for Survivors living in the North West of the UK. Based in Manchester, Deirdre offers welfare advice and support, oversees a befriending programme and provides consistent support and companionship to the Survivor community. In her previous roles as manager and caseworker within the Irish Voluntary Sector, for 23 years Deirdre was dedicated to supporting Irish people in the areas of health, housing, family-tracing and providing general advice and information. Previous to this, Deirdre worked at the Community Health Council, an independent watchdog for NHS patients. In this Assistant to Secretary role, Deirdre advocated for patients who had negative experiences in the NHS, supporting patients to make and resolve complaints. Deirdre moved to the UK from Northern Ireland in her youth and started a career in the statutory services of health and housing. Being people-oriented, Deirdre welcomed the challenge and satisfaction that comes with making a positive difference to peoples lives. Deirdre embarked on a welfare career confident she was well placed to become a caseworker due to her first-hand experience as a migrant, bearing witness to the issues migrants faced. In particular, Deirdre was concerned that issues relating to Irish people’s health was being neglected. Growing up in the area, Deirdre had also been witness to the regeneration in Manchester. From this experience, she gathered expert knowledge about how the regeneration affected people and the Irish community especially. Deirdre wanted to get involved with IWSSN because in her previous role she encountered and supported Survivors as various commissions and enquiries arose. Deirdre understood Survivors vulnerability and knew they would benefit from increased support and information. Deirdres work in supporting the Irish and general community has been formally recognised on a number of occasions throughout her working life, especially for helping to raise the profile and successfully address issues relating to hard-to-reach individuals in the Irish community living in Manchester.