TIPS TO PROMOTE INTEGRATION AT LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVEL
WHO ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS AT COMMUNITY LEVEL?
The main players at community level in promoting integration and interculturalism are as follows:
WHAT’S THE CHALLENGE?
“While many existing community development projects have identified the need to engage with new communities in their areas, and want to work on interculturalism and anti-racism, not many have actually done so,” says Alice Binchy of Tallaght Intercultural Action.
“Most projects find it difficult to engage and make contact with ethnic minority groups in their area in a realistic and meaningful way for lack of financial support, resources and knowledge,” concluded reporters at last year’s EARS seminar.
WHY ARE ‘NEW COMMUNITIES’ A PRIORITY?
NCRRI ASSISTS LOCAL GROUPS
TAP FOR INFORMATION:
The following organisations and methods will yield a lot of useful information,
whatever your query:
THINGS TO DO!
Wondering what kind of event to organise. The following are recommended by those with experience, though try not to run a one-off tokenistic event. Plan for a follow-up:
Tips for involving immigrants in community events
1) Organise events at a suitable time, e.g. evenings and weekends for migrant
workers. Sunday is often the most commonly free day, though some minority ethnic
groups have Sunday services.
Source: A Strategy Guide for Community Development Projects, Family Resource Centres and Partnerships. The report was published by Pobal and the NCCRI to support the implementation of the National Action Plan Against Racism and also the EU Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The author was Siobhán Lynam.
Hard copies are available through the NCCRI,Third Floor,
It is available for download from: www.nccri.ie/pdf/StrategyGuide.pdf
MRCI’s 3 TIPS
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland has plenty of experience in running events for members of ethnic minorities and here, Helen Lowry, shares three tips to add to our melting pot of knowledge:
For more advice, contact: Helen Lowry, Community Worker,
8 EASY, PROVEN WAYS TO PROMOTE INTEGRATION
Immigrants are now part of many local community groups and often lead by example.
Here are 8 easy proven ways – taking a community development approach
- to promote integration and to protect the rights of migrant workers and asylum-seekers:
1. Change attitudes with myth-killing workshops
For three years, Mahon CDP has been running equality awareness workshops in two local schools.
Each year, an asylum-seeker or refugee visits from Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre based in Cork. They speak about their personal experiences, how they came to be in Ireland and what they were fleeing from, and they field questions from the young people, including queries about the freebies, from cars to prams, that asylum-seekers are rumoured to receive.
The workshops are successful in dispelling myths and stereotypes young people believe in. The project has learned that the most prejudiced beliefs held by locals are aimed less at asylum-seekers and refugees and more towards economic migrants, most notably Polish people. On foot of this, the organisers added an equality element to the awareness programme.
“We now get a Cork woman in to talk to the pupils. This woman had to leave Ireland in the 1980s to find work and lived in England for many years. She talks about racist comments she received, such as being told, ‘Ye’re only here to take our jobs – go back home Paddy!’ Then we get in a Polish woman whose experience in Ireland mirrors that of the Cork woman in England. This has overturned the stereotypes. The response from the children is incredible, it’s stopped a lot of the young people in their tracks,” explains Viv Sadd, Mahon CDP co-ordinator.
"It's stopped a lot of the young people in their tracks" - Viv Sadd, Mahon CDP Co-ordinator
The awareness workshops also include talks by a lesbian and a gay man, Travellers, people with disabilities, and older people.
It is a CDP initiative in collaboration with Mahon Youth Diversion Project and builds on earlier work when both organisations brought a group of Mahon youths on an educational trip to Poland, (following which a DVD was produced).
For more information, contact:
2. Encourage fellow-immigrants to volunteer locally
Community Development plays an important role for people in the community, particularly for those who are disadvantaged. I have been involved in community development for the past four years with special interest in Irish non-national groups and single parent families. I served as a board member in the Kiltimagh CDPand launched several educational and recreational programmes for the refugee community in County Mayo.
Currently, I am involved with the Westside CDP as well as on the Board of Management of the Westside Resource Centre. My two and a half years with the Project gave me a broad understanding of the issues that affect people living in the Westside and many people throughout Ireland. We share many of the same experiences.
For example, I am a single parent raising a small child, struggling to get an education in order to participate fully in society. It is a challenge, sometimes it can almost seem overwhelming. I know that I share the same difficulties with many other single parents. It is still nearly impossible to find childcare that is affordable, flexible and of a standard that meets the needs of my child.
I have met many non-Irish nationals who are struggling to integrate into Irish culture and to learn English to communicate effectively. I encourage them to get involved with Community Development groups in their local area. It can help them to build the social networks that are so important for themselves and their families. It helps them to highlight the issues that affect their lives and to work together with other people and groups to bring about change and positive outcomes for everyone in our community.
Sometimes people ask me how I find the time and energy to get involved with a voluntary committee when I am struggling to get an education and raise my daughter. I tell them that it is important for me to show other people in situations like mine that you should never give up hope. Keep fighting for a better life for you, for your family and for other people in your community.- Eunice Ofoegbu lives in Galway with her four-year-old daughter. She is a member of the voluntary management committee of Westside Resource Centre and is also involved with Westside CDP. She was an activist with Kiltimagh CDP for four years.
3. Calm worried minds with a knitting group
A very successful 12-week Intercultural Craft Circle is nearing completion in Kiltimagh CDP, Co. Mayo. Most of the knitting yarn/wool and needles were donated by the local community and the participants included women from Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Bangladesh and Ireland.
The course made a real difference. For instance, one woman, Sibongile Svusvu from Zimbabwe found the knitting therapeutic. She has a daughter living in Zimbabwe and life is not easy on her. Since she learned to knit, she now has to knit every evening because it “stops me from thinking and worrying”.
Lou Brennan taught embroidery and cross stitch techniques for six weeks, then Mary Dempsey taught knitting for a further six weeks to a mix of women from the Mayo Railway Hotel (direct provision centre) and the local community.
The women enjoyed both sessions and picked up the sewing and knitting techniques very quickly.
“It was great to see the interaction between all the women and as the weeks went by they became more comfortable with each other, joking with each other and helping each other with the different stitches,” said Mary.
Every week new women joined the Craft Circle after they saw the knit-work that their friends produced. They made and embroidered cushions and they knit scarves, lace wraps, dolls, teddies and blankets. None of the women from Kiltimagh’s direct provision centre did needlework or knitting before but some of them proved to be naturals with needles.
“A few struggled at the beginning, especially with the knitting, until they found their rhythm and a comfortable hold. It was very gratifying for the participants and facilitators, to see confidence grow along with their knitting,” continued Mary. “The Craft Circle gave them much more than a new skill, now, instead of just sitting in their rooms they can knit or do some needlework. And they made friends.”
Everyone made at least one piece in each session, some completed two or three pieces. To end the Craft Circle, Kiltimagh CDP organised a visit to the Museum of Country Life in Turlough, Castlebar to view the exhibition of early 20th century Aran knitwear. The museum arranged an Aran knitting workshop for the group on the day.
“The women requested that we continue the Craft Circle again in the autumn and we hope to attract new participants,” added Mary.
4. Hold a day for intercultural fun
Sean Ward got involved with Acorn CDP in Longford town while on placement from the Addiction Studies programme at Athlone Institute of Technology. He decided to remain on with the project as a volunteer and here he outlines the project’s importance in County Longford:
The Acorn CDP is a unique organisation in County Longford and the opportunities it offers to new communities are vital for the integration of different cultures. It hosts Acorn United FC, provides computer classes and facilitates free access to the internet and to computers. The outcome: it enables people to learn new communication skills.
Classes are also provided in arts, crafts and sewing. One outcome: it enables people to feel more part of Irish society.
Earlier this year, volunteers gathered to build an Acorn CDP float for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The project has also provided training in conflict resolution – it organised training in the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.
The real highlight of the year is Intercultural Family Fun Day which be run this year on July 19th (2-6pm). It was a tremendous success last year and won the project a national award.
One key difference between Acorn and other drop-in centres is that Acorn always
has a counsellor to hand, while in other centres you may only get the opportunity
to seek professional help on a weekly basis.
|For more information, contact Acorn CDP on 043-48373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org|
5. Network with others and set up a drop-in centre
When the West Tallaght Resource Centre (WTRC) was established 21 years ago, it chose to be “a small ‘enabling’ organisation rather than a large ‘managing’ organisation,” says Anna Lee, the project’s first leader.
So what has WTRC done to support asylum-seekers and refugees over the years? Quite a lot - it is over ten years since the first concrete action was taken:
WTRC’s work in this area coincided with a Tallaght Partnership initiative to establish the Tallaght Refugee Women’s Group 1997. Both initiatives converged and became Tallaght Intercultural Action (TIA) in 1998.
TIA is a community development organisation working with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. It provides a drop-in facility, support and computer training for members of new communities. The Drop-in Facility, with the support of the Bridgine Sisters, and WTRC, is based in St. Maelruan’s Parish Centre. It provides a meeting place for refugees, asylum seekers and Irish nationals to get together and participate in multi-cultural activities. Information and training are also provided.
WTRC was responsible from the beginning for employing TIA’s staff and administering their budget. This relationship continues today and staff numbers have grown to five. WTRC is currently working to enable TIA to become self-managing and independent. The TIA is 10 years old.
“The WTRC was always committed to the growth of local groups, to building their capacity and supporting their development,” recalled Anna Lee. The TIA is the proof of the pudding.
For the record, the WTRC started as one of nine projects (out of 150 applicants) funded under the Second EC Programme to Tackle Poverty (1985-1989). Soon after, it became part of the Community Development Programme.
6. Call SHEP for a course in ‘Inter-Cultural Awareness’
The Social and Health Education Project (SHEP) operates in Counties Cork and Kerry. It supports community groups by providing trained tutors to conduct courses in social and health education. For many years, intercultural awareness training has been one of 12 main courses offered by SHEP.
Working in partnership with the Eastern European Association (EEA), SHEP developed and facilitated a ‘Culture Club’ programme in 2006 which facilitated 45-50 people from abroad and from Ireland to share and reflect on their respective traditions. The Culture Club programme has continued with ongoing support from the EEA and now meets regularly in the South Parish Community Centre in Cork.
Meanwhile, in 2007 SHEP developed and delivered 10-week intercultural dialogue programmes for immigrants. The courses were held in Blackpool, Wilton and Cork city centre.
“The community development approach adopted in the programmes has left those involved feeling confident in their own ability to sustain their groups. Also, through these programmes, SHEP facilitators have gained valuable new experience of intercultural work and the capacity of the project has grown,” says Dr. Paul Doherty, Director, the Social and Health Education Project.
The courses lead participants to ask questions about Irish culture as well as to examine the diverse cultural traditions represented in the immigrant population itself.
SHEP commenced its work in 1974. As well as community training services, the project provides counselling, advocacy and organisational development support.
Liam and Workshop prop
For more details of SHEP’s intercultural work, contact Liam McCarthy.
T: 021-4666180 E: email@example.com. SHEP is based in Village Chambers,
The Village Centre, Station Road, Ballincollig, Co. Cork. Information about
the project, including its International Partnership Programme in Nepal, can
be found on the website: www.socialandhealth.com
7. Nominate people for awards
Reza Mirfattahi is an Iranian asylum-seeker, living in the Old Rectory Hostel, in New Ross, Co. Wexford. On June 19th, he was one of two Iranians presented with a World Refugee Day award.
He lists his place on the Voluntary Board of Management of New Ross CDP as his number one community contribution. There are many others – including his involvement in the local credit union, civil defence, Community Voice Group, and RAPID newsletter.
“As an asylum seeker I am facing many limitations as part of the asylum process,” says Reza. Against the odds, many asylum-seekers manage to integrate very well, as Reza’s example shows very well.
While denied access to third level (as are all asylum-seekers unless they can pay the fees), Reza has completed courses through local organisations such as the County Wexford Partnership. His completion rate is indicative of the choice that is available to people who can engage with the community: English, suicide-intervention, lifeguard training, FETAC fitness, health promotion, mental health, swimming for teachers and child protection.
Mayor of New Ross, Cllr. Ingrid O’Brien, described Reza’s civic spirit as being “clearly imbued with a keen sense of social justice, decency and fairness.” She said she was impressed by the way he visited local schools, discussing the position and difficulties facing by refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland, and breaking down barriers of ignorance between the different nationalities in our town.
Another Iranian man, Mojtaba Pouladpour, living in Co. Longford, won a Refugee Award this year in the Health and Welfare category.Reza’s award-win is featured on pages 18-19 of Issue 26.
8. Bring people together to quilt
The co-ordinator of Roscommon Women’s Network CDP has been cursing ‘Changing Ireland’ for the “huge” reaction her project received to a report on their intercultural quilting. We reported how the quilting ticked many boxes in adopting a Community Development approach: collective action, an anti-poverty aim, partnership, empowerment and sustainability.
“We barely have time to answer the phone,” said Nora, exaggerating a little. “While the women were making the quilt, I said we should write up an evaluation, describing how it worked, and I’m sorry we didn’t now because everyone who rings asks the same questions.”
The project co-ordinator is part-time, as is the administrator Maria Harris and CE participant Lorraine Campbell and they have been under pressure to deal with enquiries following press coverage of the Network’s success with ‘intercultural quilting’. A novel element was that the Network organised for the quilt to tour the county.
Calls came from around the country, including one on a Friday afternoon from the PAUL Partnership in Limerick.
“They had me on the phone for an hour, and I was cursing ‘Changing Ireland’ because I wanted to get home. But really it’s great, I could talk about the quilt all day.”
Others making enquiries include Dublin City Council, the October 17th committee and Roscommon County Council.
Nora said that 60% of the 26 quilters who came from many countries had “never sewed a button before” and they are very proud. The quilt was produced to raise awareness of October 17th, the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and was funded by Combat Poverty and the Roscommon County Development Board.
A local young parents’ groups since went to work to produce a quilt of their own, but funding was an issue: “We asked Combat Poverty for money for them but they said they don’t provide funding just like that,” said Nora. “Six weeks later they got back to us and said they were getting tired of seeing newspaper clippings landing on their desk about our quilt, so the board had decided to give us €1000. The young women were over the moon and they made their own quilt. We call it the ‘sister-quilt’,” said Nora.
To keep the staff and 14 volunteers in the Roscommon Women’s Network on their toes, give them a ring. They would love to hear from you. Seriously!T: 094-962-1690.
E: NFahy@rwn.ie or MHarris@rwn.ie
November ’08 update: The Roscommon CDP quilt has continued on its travels, showing up most recently at events in Dublin and Brussels.
MIGRANT WORKERS RIGHTS
Key issues facing migrant workers
Most foreigners here are British
A report released on June 30th by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that most Non-Irish Nationals (NINs) living in Ireland in April 2006 were from Britain. The ten largest ethnic minority groups in Ireland are from:
If you feel the statistics are not reflected in your area, you may be right. For instance, two-thirds of all Chinese people resident in Ireland live in the greater Dublin area (the city and its suburbs). By comparison, four of every five Latvians lives outside the Pale.
The CSO report includes revealing profiles of the 10 largest non-Irish groups which should help to guide policy-makers at local as well as national level. The profiles show where in Ireland people from the ten largest ethnic groups live, who they tend to live with, what kind of work they do, their marital status, their religious beliefs or lack of, their economic status, and so on. Log onto www.cso.ie, wait a few seconds, then click on ‘Census 2006’.
On Census Day, April 23rd 2006 . . .• 420,000 non-Irish people were resident in the State, coming from 188 different countries.
• There were 44 countries - from Anguilla to Western Sahara - represented by fewer than 10 people.
• Some 17 per cent of Lithuanians aged from five to 19 could speak Irish.
• Over half of the Nigerian people in Dublin lived in Fingal. By comparison, on the city’s Southside, only 1% of Nigerians in Ireland lived in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.
• Non-Irish groups are dominated by people in their 20s and 30s, with significantly more men than women. There were few children and older people among them.
• 80% of Chinese said they had "no religion", by far the highest per cent of any group, while 6 per cent said Buddhist and 1 in 20 indicated Catholic.
• People from countries outside Europe had higher overall educational attainment than Irish people in the same age brackets.
• While Nigerians were heavily urbanised, British nationals lived mainly in rural areas, Polish people were largely here to work, and most Chinese were here to study. Such distinctions are significant for policy-making.