Being the change

Mar 05, 2018
After being a homeless single parent wanting to finish her education, Deborah Somorin, Senior Associate at PwC, has decide to help make sure others single parents in college don't struggle like she did.

Why did you decide to become a Chartered Accountant?

I’ve known I wanted to be a Chartered Accountant for as long as I can remember. I always loved making a budget and working with numbers. Becoming a Chartered Accountant was the obvious career choice for me. 

What is The Hope Ireland Project and how did you get it started?

There is a lack of affordable accommodation and childcare for young, disadvantaged parents in third-level education. This is a barrier to futhering their education and stand on their own two feet eventually. 

The Hope Ireland Project is a project that aims to open student accommodation for young, disadvantaged parents in third-level education that will include a crèche on location and, hopefully, help break the homelessness cycle for many children for generations. 

I decided this was something I wanted to do about a year ago. It’s a service that would have made a massive difference to me when I was in college as a single parent who had transitioned out of state care. When I thought up the idea, I decided I would fund it when I one day became a partner or CFO. 

However, I went on the Late Late Show in early January of this year. The amount of support I received was inspiring and motivating. So, I thought, why not do it now? I wrote the idea in my notes app on my phone and posted it across all my social media channels. I also set up a petition for public support for the project. I sent an email to every minister who could help, including Taoiseach Leo Varadakar, philanthropic trusts, social entrepreneurial funding organisation, and universities. That was the start. 

Once I decide I’m doing something, that’s it. I’m doing it, whatever it takes. 

What are your five year goals for The Hope Ireland Project?

I plan to open the first location in Dublin by September 2020. After that, I hope to open in one new location every year where there is a university.

You’re also a speaker and advocate for Focus Ireland – why is community outreach important to you? Has it always been a part of your life?

I am only the person I am today because of community outreach projects and organisations. Focus Ireland played an important role in helping me stay safe and in education when I was homeless at 13. When they asked me to help them with fundraising last year, I immediately said yes. All across the country there are people I grew up with who were in the same circumstances as I was but haven’t been as lucky as I have. I want to help change that.

Has your career as a trainee accountant helped in your creating of The Hope Ireland Project?

Yes. I had to prepare a business plan, proposal and projected accounts for prospective investors of the project. That wasn’t as daunting a task for me because of the FAEs and the invaluable training I have received in PwC. My career has helped me and will hopefully aid in helping many people in the future.