Kellie Beirne (BA 1997, MSc 2003) is Programme Director for the £1billion Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, improving the Welsh capital’s infrastructure.
If I’m going to make a difference anywhere, I want it to be in this amazing place: the city that I’m from, and that I feel so passionately about.
The Cardiff capital region is home to more than 60% of the population of Wales but it also has some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation. Why? Because our economy isn’t doing as well as it should be and we have some deeply embedded social issues.
This is against a backdrop of glorious landscapes, abundant natural resources, amazing people, and connected communities. We’ve got real spirit and energy here and I want to do my best to help unleash that.
The City Deal is about good economic growth; growth that does good and doesn’t just try to hit targets. It’s about developing an agile, flexible economy. If we can create the conditions whereby people are more self-sufficient and have better prospects, that’s our best safeguard against injustice and inequality.
We want to create a city that is not just good for today, but great for tomorrow. The Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations legislation means we’ve got a fantastic opportunity to make a difference from way upstream; to consider the life chances of our kids and their kids; of people not even born yet.
I’ve always been moved by inequality and injustice. I did my degree in Language and Communications because I believe understanding someone’s intrinsic motivations is an important means of building strong relationships, and my proudest professional achievement is still the time I spent working in a homeless hostel when I first graduated.
I later went into the housing sector because it’s a pragmatic, collective means to address some of the fundamental issues around social injustice. Yes, it’s just bricks and mortar – but it can help us to understand people’s motivations, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they need.
Those learnings are at the heart of the City Deal and are allied to the fundamental belief that every person that deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Whenever we can show compassion, it’s our moral duty to do so. That’s what I hope to achieve.
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