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We felt like only people of colour in our town

Sheree Atcheson was born in Sri Lanka. At three weeks old she was adopted, along with her brother, by a family from Northern Ireland.

They were raised in the rural town of Coalisland in County Tyrone, and Ms Atcheson has fond memories of the town’s sense of community and its personalities.

“But the flipside of that is in the 1990s, Tyrone was not very diverse and unfortunately we did face racism,” says the 30-year-old who was recently listed as one of the UK’s most influential women in tech.

“When you’re at the cute baby stage it’s one thing, but when you’re older it’s different.


“My brother would often get racist abuse after school from one of the other schools when walking home.”

The experience influenced her career path: she trained as a software engineer and now leads diversity work at a global design agency.

During the last two decades, County Tyrone has seen an increase in families from outside the UK due to employment opportunities in local food processing and engineering firms.

“When I go back to Coalisland now it’s much more diverse because of immigration,” says Ms Atcheson.

“My work is about embracing diversity and the uniqueness that people have, so it’s great to see these changes back home.”

Video journalist: Niall McCracken

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