1800 212 477
Freephone from Ireland
0808 234 1303
Freephone from the UK

How to Apply

Our Staff

Here is some information on the staff working in Caranua.

Mary Higgins - CEO

Mary has over forty years' experience in the delivery, design, management and evaluation of services for people who are socially disadvantaged and in advocating for changes in policy and legislation to address the underlying causes of disadvantage. In Caranua she is responsible for leading on all aspects of the organisation.

Rachel Downes - Director of Services

Rachel has over twelve years' experience in information, advice and advocacy in voluntary organisations and Citizens Information Board where she worked as a Regional Manager and was involved in the development of the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities and the Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline. Rachel has a BA in Human Resources and Accountancy and a Higher Certificate in Advocacy Studies. In Caranua, Rachel is responsible for ensuring that all Caranua services are designed and implemented to impact positively on the quality of life of applicants.

Siobhán Kane - Head of Communications and Engagement

Siobhán has over ten years' experience as a communications professional, committed to empowering people who are socially disadvantaged and ensuring that their voices and concerns are heard. She previously worked as a journalist, in the Oireachtas and as communications manager in a national organisation the rights of people with an intellectual disability. She has a B.A. in Communications Studies, an M.A. in International Relations and an M.Comm in Government and Public Policy. In Caranua she is responsible for all communications, engagement, including press, published material and outreach.

Caitríona Ní Mhurchú - Head of Administration

Caitríona holds a BA and Masters in Management and has over ten years' experience in senior administrative roles across a number of public sector organisations including within the education and local authority sectors. As Head of Administration, she is responsible for overseeing the work of the administrative team in Caranua as well as responsibility for facilities and human resources within the organisation.

David A. Yeomans - Director of Finance & Corporate Affairs

David is an experienced management accountant and qualified internal auditor, with expertise in governance, risk management and compliance. He has worked as Financial Controller, Internal Auditor and Head of Internal Audit with the IDA, UCD, Dublin Airport Authority, The Atlantic Philanthropies and Traidlinks. David is responsible for the finance and corporate affairs functions of the organisation, supporting Caranua in achieving its objectives in a transparent and efficient manner.

Quality, Compliance and Information Officers

Quality, Compliance and information staff are responsible for ensuring compliance with our own policies, procedures and quality standards, external regulation and legislation. They also manage complaints, feedback, appeals, Freedom of Information (FOI) and Data Protection requests.

Stephanie Dunne Caranua in December 2015 as an Application Adviser before taking up the role of Quality, Compliance and Information Officer and has significant experience in the delivery of front line services in the areas of immigration, addiction and homeless services. With an academic background in public policy and law, Stephanie is a strong advocate and feels passionate about ensuring a best quality service is offered to clients. 

Ronan O’Halloran joined Caranua in October 2014 as a Call Line Operator, went on to become an Application Advisor in January 2015 and in January 2016 took up his current role. Ronan has a Master's Degree in Environment, Society and Development Studies through which he has worked on the ground with the UN in Bosnia, has worked as a secondary school English and Geography teacher and in various managerial and supervisory roles, in the hospitality industry.

Application Advisors

Application Advisors are responsible for supporting each applicant through the application process, providing information, advice and advocacy as necessary and assessing applicant needs and applications for services. We have twelve Advisors who each currently manage over 200 applications at any one time. Caranua has recently organised the Advisors into teams, each with a Team Leader who is responsible for leading, supporting and ensuring the quality and effectiveness of the team.

Sinéad Dwyer has over ten years' experience as a qualified Social Worker working predominantly in Acute Adult Forensic and Psychiatric Settings. Sinead holds a Bachelor of Social Science and a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons).  She joined Caranua in April 2015 and adopts a strength based and solution focused approach to her role and seeks to improve the responsiveness of other organisations to enhance the wellbeing of survivors especially those who vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.

Pádraig Hegarty joined Caranua in November 2015, with 13 years experience in the delivery of social services in the USA, Mexico and Ireland with people who are most disadvantaged. In New York he led a multi disciplinary team supporting the transition of people with special needs from state supported institutions to independent or group homes.  Padraig has an Honours Degree in Social Studies and is currently studying a Masters in Social Studies. 

Sorrena Megan has worked in the Social Care field for almost 17 years, ten of this at management and supervisory level. She holds a BSC in Social Science with Social Policy and a Post Graduate Diploma in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.  Her experience is predominately working with young people, adults and families at risk, including children in care, so she is very aware of the impact of institutionalisation and abuse on individuals.

Fiachra Barrett joined Caranua as an application advisor in October 2016. Before this, he spent 13 years working with marginalised and disadvantaged young people and their families in a youth justice setting. Fiachra has a Social Care Degree as well as a Post-graduate qualification in Social Research Skills and an M.A. in Social Justice and Public Policy. 

Marguerite Bourke joined Caranua as an Application Advisor in June 2017. Prior to commencing with Caranua, she worked in community development, women in leadership, service provision and advocacy programmes with New Communities Partnership, Young Ballymun, Citizens Information Board, LYCS and Cairde.   Client groups have included black and ethnic minority communities, children and families experiencing poverty, marginalised youth, adult learners and people with disabilities.

Patrick Cleary joined the Caranua team in January 2014 having worked before for several years with Citizens Information Services providing information, advice, advocacy and representation at Social Welfare, Small Claims and the Private Residential Tenancies Board.  While there he completed the Information Provider Programme in the National College of Ireland, and in Employment Law through the Ballymun Law Society.

Meadhbh Devilly joined Caranua in June 2015 as a call line operator before being recruited to the role of Advisor in May 2016.  She holds an Honours Bachelor degree in Business Management and has eight years customer service experience.  Meadhbh strives to ensure that the best quality service is offered at all times and is passionate about assisting the clients with their applications.

Helena Doyle has a BA in Social Care and a Masters in Child, Family and Community Studies.  Helena joined Caranua as an Application Advisor in February 2017.  Prior to this, she has spent the past eight years working in homeless services with voluntary providers.  She is passionate about helping people achieve the most out of their lives and providing a high quality service to those most in need.

Caroline McClure joined Caranua in August 2016 with over twenty years' experience in advocacy, campaigning and the delivery of services across a wide range of issues and needs.  She has worked in Dublin, Belfast and Derry with young people with a learning disability, promoted volunteering and civic participation, community safety, affordable childcare and peace and reconciliation.  Her motivation has always been to create positive change, in people’s lives and in society, especially with those who are the most disadvantaged.

Orlagh McHugh joined Caranua in December 2016.  She holds an honours degree in Social Science with Social Policy from UCD and has over ten years experience working in the voluntary and community sectors, most recently in Australia where she worked with the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland supporting Irish migrants in times of need or distress.  Orlagh has a particular interest in Ireland’s Global Diaspora and in supporting survivors who are not resident in Ireland to have a fair opportunity to access the fund and other supports where necessary and leads on this element of our work. 

Geraldine O’Connor joined Caranua as a call line operator in June 2014 before being recruited to the role of Advisor in April 2017.  Previously Ger worked in administration in the voluntary and private sectors, most recently the Carmicheal Centre for Voluntary groups. 

Natalya Vyshnevska came to Caranua in May 2014 with nine years' experience providing information, advice, advocacy in a busy Citizens Information centre in Dublin city, specialising in social welfare, employment, immigration, consumer and family law and providing representation at Employment Appeals Tribunals and Social Welfare.  Natalya has degrees in Languages and Psychology, completed the Advocacy and Law course at the Institute of Technology Sligo and holds a Diploma in Human Resource Management from the National College of Ireland.

Call Line Operators

Call line operators are our first point of contact for people using our freephone, handling over 25,000 calls each year and providing information about our application process and related issues.

Leanne Hughes

Leanne joined Caranua in October 2016. She has 10 years’ experience working in the community and voluntary sector. Before joining Caranua, Leanne worked in her local community centre as a receptionist and project support worker. Leanne also volunteered on the askonefamily Helpline, Ireland’s national helpline for one-parent families, where she provided support and information on a range of issues faced by vulnerable people in Ireland today. 

Administrative Assistants

Administrative assistants handle general queries to Caranua through email and post, verify all first stage applications and identity documentation, provide a warm welcome to visitors, input all documentation into our case management system and support other staff.

Lucy Kenny joined Caranua in January 2014. With a background in administration, most recently with the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, Lucy has over 20 years' experience working within the not-for-profit sector.

Laoise Barrett joined Caranua in January 2016 from the hospitality sector where she learned to provide an efficient and friendly service to the public.  She is currently studying Business in Dublin Business School. 

Niamh Flanagan joined Caranua in February 2015 with three years' experience in customer service and administration.

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