The Impact of Your Support – Irish Refugee Council Housing Project Update
By the time the first phase of this project has been completed over 40 people will have been housed from direct provision. That figure was zero just over a year ago.
The United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough have been supporting a housing project run by the Irish Refugee Council for almost one year. The project helps people to transition from living in Direct Provision once they have been given leave to remain in Ireland by helping with accommodation but, equally importantly, by providing support in different areas of life which will assist them to integrate and participate fully in Irish society.
The dioceses have committed to raising €300,000 over a three year period and throughout Dublin & Glendalough people and parishes have been holding events, sponsored walks, bring and buy sales, special collections and much more to raise funds for the project. The first tranche of this money has been released to the IRC.
As the project continues to gather momentum, Archbishop Michael Jackson has thanked all who have supported the fundraising efforts to date. “The success of this Project very much depends on the generosity of people within the Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough as it is our specific response to a nationwide and indeed international crisis. I am very proud of the support that has been given thus far. I appreciate the generosity shown on all sides and I encourage everyone to consider a practical way in which you and your community might be involved,” he said urging everyone who is planning events for Harvest, Advent and Christmas to make the project their priority for 2017 in parishes and schools.
CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, Nick Henderson, has also thanked the people of Dublin & Glendalough for their support of the project. “With the support from the dioceses and the wider community the Irish Refugee Council’s housing project is flourishing. People and Families who have been offered a home through the project continue to receive ongoing support and assistance and we have also identified new beneficiaries with a wide range of needs,” he said.
Overview of Project Progress
Apart from having basic shelter needs met, support has been provided to enable people to continue the process of integration without the considerable stress of finding suitable accommodation in a highly competitive market. This includes securing full time employment, commencing third level education, pursuing advanced English classes and having qualifications accredited in Ireland.
The project has secured 10 new properties, which will potentially see over 40 people directly accommodated. Indirectly, Rory, the IRC Housing and Employment Officer, has supported over 100 people with a wide variety of housing issues, including assistance in dealing with problems around existing accommodation or supporting them in making the transition from Direct Provision into finding and entering new homes.
Most recent figures state that around 400 people have refugee status and are living in Direct Provision but cannot leave because of the wider housing crisis.
The housing project makes a real difference in people’s lives as one beneficiary, Abdelshafa Abdala, explains: “Housing project is a new birth for me. After years of living in hostels and sharing single rooms with others, to have my own place it looks like a dream comes true. I have still not come to terms with it. It is huge. Sometimes I feel like I am in a dream especially when I close my door, cook, reception a friend and when I make a phone calls and no one asked me to lower my voice, go out and speak, or shout at me. In the beginning, it was so hard to me just to feel that it is my place and I’m free to do whatever I want to do but gradually I started enjoying my privacy and I can express my happiness and appreciation for what I have now, I’m free and over the moon”.
Not only is the project supporting people transitioning out of Direct Provision but also families that are being reunited after many years apart. People the IRC works with are welcoming family members who themselves have often been living in difficult conditions in their own country. People arriving under Family Reunification require different holistic supports to people exiting long term institutional living. For example, in the short–term people will need access to English language classes and to psychosocial, cultural and integration supports to assist in adapting to life in Ireland. Further down the line they may need assistance with accessing further education and employment. All of IRC services and staff are available to people arriving under Family Reunification.
The goals for the next phase of the project are:
Recruitment of a Housing Officer to work with existing beneficiaries and identify new ones. The housing officer will give the IRC extra capacity to assist more people. IRC will document the project’s lessons and share these with organisations doing similar work.
The IRC hopes to acquire new properties and to collaborate with more organisations from a wide variety of backgrounds and ready the new properties for their new tenants. In some cases this involves basic upkeep in others it requires substantial renovations.
They are inputting to a developing project involving a range of organisations around private sponsorship of refugees to come to Ireland from Syria and elsewhere. With support from the Saint Stephen’s Green Trust they now have the assistance of a housing expert, who will be consolidating the governance framework of the project which is very important.
“The Irish Refugee Council and the project’s beneficiaries are extremely grateful for the ongoing support of the Dioceses. As ever we are happy to meet and present the work of the project to any groups or individuals and answer any questions you have. With your continued support we can assist more people in a greater number of ways,” Nick Henderson concluded.
To contribute to the appeal, monies can be forwarded by cheque to: the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough, Church House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, Dublin 6 (marked Housing Appeal). Donations can also be lodged directly to: DIOCESAN FUNDS OF DUBLIN AND GLENDALOUGH, Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin 2, BIC: BOFIIE2D, IBAN: IE50 BOFI 9000 1769 3548 78, Reference: Housing appeal. Donations may attract a tax rebate.
The Irish Refugee Council can be found at: www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie | 01 764 5854 | firstname.lastname@example.org