Genio is a pioneering non-profit organisation specialising in social service transformation. It was established in Ireland in 2008 by Madeleine Clarke, Founding Executive Director.

Story of Genio 

The motivation to establish Genio grew out of my experience of meeting people who were challenged in a number of different ways, who need good services to live the lives that they want to live. That includes people with disabilites, people with mental health difficulties, vulnerable children, people who are homeless; a whole range of people in our society who are dealing with adversity," Madeleine Clarke.

Prior to establishing Genio, Madeleine worked in the social sector for thirty years as a professional psychologist, senior manager and independent consultant working with statutory, philanthropic and non-governmental agencies. She could see the constraints that the NGO community and statutory agencies were under as well as the opportunities and creative thinking that was emerging from leaders in these fields.

I felt it put me in a good position to develop a collaboration between people from different areas and to do something that would really be in the interests of people who need our support,” Madeleine Clarke.

As a country, we have historically invested in group-focussed, one-size-fits-all services. While Ireland has some excellent, person-centred policies in place more needed to be done to bridge the gap between policy and the types of services that were actually being delivered on the ground. The Atlantic Philanthropies, a foundation which has invested substantially in Ireland over the past three decades, was interested in helping people with disabilities and mental health difficulties in Ireland in a way that would be impactful, sustainable and could be scaled to reach as many people as possible. 

“This provided an opportunity to do something that was much more ambitious and strategic. It coincided with the Department of Health who were also forging ahead to create new and very exciting world leading policy,” Madeleine Clarke.

Collaborating with Government

Collaboration with Government was critical to the establishment of Genio, recognising that they ultimately have long-term responsibility for the delivery of social services and the ability to make change happen within the system. Thought-leaders within government were exploring innovative ways of bridging the gap between policy and implementation but the re-alignment of resources that are tied into long-standing traditional services is very challenging. Atlantic's involvement introduced independent funding which provided leverage within the system to support the innovation that was required to make change happen. Genio brought all the key stakeholders together while providing independent expertise, fund management, capacity building and research.

The partners that we have within Government were co-creators of Genio. It wasn’t us that just set this up with Atlantic. Equally important were the people who came in to the fold very early on and worked with Madeleine and made the case for why Genio was needed," John Healy, Deputy Executive Directer, Genio.

People at the heart of Genio

The heart of the Genio story lies with the individuals and families around the country who are striving to build self-determined lives for themselves and their loved ones.

Genio really began by consulting with the people for whom change matters most. People who really need service and their families, their carers and their advocates and it was by talking to all of these people up and down the country over a number of months; that’s what really gave us the picture of what it is that people need and want. What was really interesting about that consultation process was it became clear that people just want the lives that you and I want, they want to be able to make the choices that you and I make. They don’t want something that’s spectacular or elaborate,” Madeleine Clarke.

At a grassroots level there were already some pockets of good examples of innovative service providers around the country.

We were trying to identify and locate whatever green shoots there were around the country of good service that we could help nurture and grow," Madeleine Clarke.

The Genio team

The Genio team comprises an experienced group of specialists with a range of public, private and non-profit backgrounds. Driven and passionate, the team shares the core belief that 'Society benefits by valuing all of its citzens.' Genio is supported by a dedicated Board of Directors and Board of Trustees who give their time on a voluntary basis.

This is a small, lean team, able to be responsive and flexible. That's particularly important when helping to change a system that can find it difficult to move at a fast pace because of its size,” Madeleine Clarke.

The future

Genio has developed a unique model of social service transformation. Research shows that it is acheiving better outcomes and lives for individuals and their families while in most cases also proving to be more cost-effective. 

"We recognise that the learning that we have been privileged to be able to experience throughout this journey so far, is very relevant to other social service areas and for other countries. We believe that by sharing and applying this learning, many more vulnerable people can access self-determined lives in the community," Madeleine Clarke.

Watch a short film about the Genio story

Specialists in transforming social services

We work with Government and Philanthropy
to support people in leading self-determined lives

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Genio
19-21 Westland Square
Pearse St., Dublin 2, D02 YH27, Ireland
Phone +353 1 707 1700
Email [email protected]

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