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ISU September Update

Date: 19 Sep 2016

Venue: Waterford

"We have had an exceptionally busy year with the impact of programmes exceeding our expectations and the significant elevation of services and associated funding reaching a project value which is our highest since we began operation in 2006.

"Each week in the ISU, 96 English Language students were tutored by a team of Volunteers. Asylum Seekers, as our most vulnerable group of learners, avail of lessons three full mornings per week. Refugees and economic Migrants benefit from the maximum of two classes per week including the provision of an evening class to cater for working learners. This year we restructured the language classes with the assistance of a Coordinator who operates in a voluntary capacity. The Coordinator is supported by the volunteer team as well as the ISU Lead Tutor who assists with assessment setting and alignment with learning needs for accredited education programmes for advanced learners.

"In 2015 we assisted in the region of 1,500 clients to access information, services, referrals, health equity, Roma advocacy, accommodation, welfare supports, English language, legal documents, Embassy supports, gender equity, family supports, resettlement programmes, professional qualifications, volunteering options, internships, work experience placement, community participation, voting rights, youth and sporting activities, education, training and employment opportunities.

"These supports were only made possible by the dedicated team of ISU Volunteers who gave of their time so freely and willingly to assist others to become part of their community.

"We have in the past year turned our attentions to issues such as health equity for those in the Direct Provision system, equality of access to services such as accommodation, social welfare, education and employment opportunities, identifying mental and social health issues for minority groups, community education programmes and preparing programmes for Roma supports, youth enterprise, civic engagement, ethics, human rights, Universal Periodic Reviews and integration policy.

"Previous years of providing pre-development supports have come to fruition in 2015 through the completion of the Intercultural Healthcare Pilot Programme, a strategic approach to our Roma Programme, the engagement of former clients of the ISU as peer knowledge/Outreach workers, the acceptance of the ISU in the community as a leader of innovative accredited programmes for Migrants, the consolidation of the four main pillars of our work, the funding achievements for mainstreaming programmes, the reviews of the ISU operations and Roma Interagency Group, the delivery of a second Trafficking Seminar, the preparation of a number of academic papers and contributions to Conferences as well as the development of the LTI Programme have proven testament to the work."

Places of Sanctuary Ireland

Place of Sanctuary is a new project that has come about in UK and Ireland to provide support for asylum seekers and refugees.

Places of Sanctuary Ireland is a network of groups in cities, towns and local communities whose primary aim is to create a culture of welcome and safety for refugees, asylum-seekers and other immigrants, many of whom are seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. It creates opportunities for Irish people to meet these newcomers to our country, to hear their stories and to help them find a new home here among us.

Places of Sanctuary Ireland is part of the wider City of Sanctuary network which began in Sheffield in 2005 with a vision for making cities places that had a culture of welcome and inclusion, especially for those seeking sanctuary. The vision has spread to over 70 cities, towns and villages in many parts of Ireland and UK and now includes ‘Streams of Sanctuary’ – initiatives to welcome refugees and migrants in schools, universities, hospitals, sports clubs, churches and other faith groups, theatres and music venues, businesses and other community groups.

There are other organisations which provide services to refugees and asylum-seekers and lobby government on their behalf. We are committed to supporting and promoting the excellent work being done by these groups and to building partnerships with them in our shared commitment to the welfare and inclusion of refugees and migrants in all sectors of society. Ours is a more grass-roots initiative: it brings ordinary Irish people together with refugees and other migrants so they can be made to feel welcome, to make friends and to integrate fully and harmoniously into our society.

PoSI works through schools and colleges, churches, local councils, community groups, businesses and other organisations in the belief that these newcomers have a huge amount to offer Irish society.  We want to ensure that their voices are heard and their skills and talents are given opportunity to flourish for their good and that of Irish society as a whole.  PoSI is not affiliated to any political or religious organisation.

In Ireland there are well established City of Sanctuary initiatives in Dublin, Belfast, Waterford, Coleraine/Causeway and Derry/Londonderry. There are new and emerging groups in Cork, Kildare, Portlaoise, Ennis and enquiries from several other places. The basic sanctuary message can fit to any community, any group and any activity; all that is required is an agreement that we want to make our activities welcoming and inclusive for refugees and migrants.