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Welcome to the next edition of MHC Moments. In this series, we shine a spotlight on the contributions our people make to our community and the experiences that make us who we are. ​​

Our colleague Aisling Hourihane, a member of our RISE (Responsible Investment in Social Engagement) Committee, shares her experiences with the charity Fighting Words.

Tell us about your experience with Fighting Words

Fighting Words is a brilliant charity which the firm has supported from the beginning. We provide financial support through our CSR programme. As the RISE committee member responsible for coordinating with that charity, I have been involved with them since 2022.

Fighting Words provides free programmes and mentoring in creative writing and illustration to various communities. This includes DEIS schools, people in Direct Provision centres and children in youth detention centres, to name a few. Fighting Words empowers participants to use their imagination.

I recently helped with a workshop which was run at the Fighting Words centre in Phibsborough. We assisted the Fighting Words staff to run a creative writing workshop with a group of fifth class schoolchildren.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the dynamics of the group change over the day was very rewarding. As the children warmed up to the workshop there was much more shouting out of ideas, and some wacky contributions. Some of the children, in contrast, thrived in the smaller groups doing illustrations with their friends. At the end of the workshop, the children receive a very professional copy of their story and illustrations, and seeing them so delighted was great.

Did you encounter any challenges?

As volunteers, we received training before the workshop which emphasised the importance of allowing the children to lead the development of the story. Interestingly, the role of a volunteer is also to avoid copyright infringement! Fighting Words do a great job of making sure all of the children have the opportunity to participate. Naturally some children are more chatty and enthusiastic, so it was necessary to balance that by affording some quieter children the chance to have their voice heard.

How do you balance your work responsibilities with your volunteer commitments?

I have organised several workshops with Fighting Words now, and these have been spaced out enough that there has not been a huge issue with demands on my time. Our contacts in Fighting Words are super helpful with any queries and with coordinating the dates and volunteering. That said, when I am very busy in work I am conscious of not letting a reply to an email about Fighting Words or something similar slip to the bottom of the list, which it could easily do. When you actually get around to those things they tend not to take up as much time as you think.

Are there any specific skills that you have developed through your volunteering experience?

I wish I had as much creativity as fifth class students have in their pinky finger! It reminded me of the importance of play in our lives, and that it is crucial as adults to retain that sense of fun.

What advice would you give to other staff members who are considering getting involved in volunteering?

I would recommend it to everyone. There are lots of volunteering opportunities around if you keep an ear out. I am also involved with two pro bono projects, and each volunteering opportunity offers something different, and involves a different level of time commitment. If you feel you cannot commit to a long running project, then I definitely suggest doing a one-off volunteering event (for example a Fighting Words workshop!) to dip your toe in.

When it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, we see it as a natural fit with the way we do business. Find out more about our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

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