Making a House a Home – Enniskerry Welcomes Refugee Family
The community of Enniskerry has united to welcome a refugee family into their midst. For the last three years Enniskerry Welcomes, supported by St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Parish, and St Mary’s Roman Catholic Parish, has been fundraising and training to provide a home for a refugee family under the Community Sponsorship Programme.
Joining forces with Enniskerry’s Charabanc Housing Association, their efforts bore fruit on Friday evening (September 15) with the ecumenical blessing of a house in the village which will become a home for the family. The family has been identified by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and accepted by the Irish Government as being in need of resettlement. Enniskerry Welcomes will provide a network of supports for the family to help them settle into the community and rebuild a safe and secure life in Ireland.
Enniskerry Welcomes has been raising funds since March 2020 as part of the Community Sponsorship Programme. The initiative empowers communities to come together in the support and integration of resettled refugees. However, having taken part in training and raised the necessary funds, they had difficulty in finding a property to rent in the village.
Just as Enniskerry Welcomes were beginning to give up hope, Charabanc Housing Association, established as part of the village’s well known Charabanc Social Club, received an offer that a house could be sourced and sponsored for Charabanc with the proviso that it be used to house refugees. Charabanc, in particular Barbara and John Davis, oversaw the upgrading of a house and with the help of a grant of €10,000 from Benefact Trust, it was kitted out and turned into a home.
“This is the Gospel in action,” Powerscourt Rector, the Revd Cathy Hallissey, said after she conducted the blessing at the house. “This project has seen everyone coming together. We have a very strong team and the welcome will be wonderful.”
Charabanc chairperson, Robert Neill, said they were excited to get the project underway. “Charabanc had wanted to get into the area of social housing for some time. When we received the offer of a house on the proviso that it be used to accommodate a refugee family, we accepted it eagerly. Barbara and John Davis project managed its upgrade and then came Enniskerry Welcomes and they have made it into a home. I also want to thank Benefact Trust who contributed €10,000 towards the project. We are privileged to be surrounded by such generous people,” he stated.
On behalf of Enniskerry Welcomes, Cllr Melanie Corrigan outlined the group’s background. “Under the Community Sponsorship Programme we undertook the training and raised funds. We applied for a family and then we had the problem of trying to find somewhere for them to live. We were getting desperate and we were going to have to look outside our community for a property to rent when out of the blue came Charabanc. We also thank Benefact for their support which means that we will have money to support the family in different ways. This is an amazing community and we thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts,” she commented.
Ecclesiastical Insurance’s Graham Hohn, on behalf of Benefact Trust, said the organisation was delighted to support the project. “We do insurance but all the profits go into Benefact Trust to give to community projects. The Trust exists to support outreach projects like this,” he explained.