Wednesday, 6 March - The Irish Red Cross today announced its support of a new migration and integration initiative which was launched this morning by Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton.
Community Sponsorship Ireland is a community-led resettlement programme which sees private citizens and community groups take leadership in welcoming refugees to their local community, town or village. The programme invites members of the community to come together in Community Sponsorship Groups (CSGs) and plan to support the integration and social inclusion of refugee families.
Community Sponsorship Groups may be drawn from a range of organisations such as sports clubs, trade unions and faith-based bodies, or may be comprised of neighbours and friends. CSGs will commit to providing financial, logistical, social and emotional support to help newly-arrived refugees settle into their new neighbourhood.
Role of the Irish Red Cross
The Irish Red Cross, in cooperation with the Irish Refugee Protection Programme at the Department of Justice and Equality, IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), UNHCR, Nasc, the Irish Refugee Council and Amnesty International Ireland have developed the Irish model of Community Sponsorship over the last 18 months.
The Irish Red Cross will also be acting as a Regional Support Organisation (RSO) to Community Sponsorship Groups alongside Nasc and the Irish Refugee Council during the pilot phase. Regional Support Organisations will provide practical training and guidance throughout the application and placement process.
The Irish Red Cross’ role in the new programme will run alongside its current migration work which sees the charity, as a partner of the Government of Ireland, facilitate the resettlement and integration of migrants who come into Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. This is done via the Irish Red Cross’ management of a register of pledges for accommodation, goods and services made by the Irish public in response to the migration crisis.
The Irish Red Cross provides direct assistance to some families and single men by providing professional casework support in the provision of housing, which includes pledges from the general public and private rented accommodation. The Irish Red Cross provides wraparound supports to refugees to engage with education, employment, social protection and health services, and liaises with the wider government-led resettlement programme across Ireland. The Irish Red Cross also coordinates community interaction and distribution of household items through its volunteer branches and network.
Since August 2017, the Irish Red Cross has facilitated refugees under the IRPP programme to move into 83 properties across 11 counties, of which 53 properties were made available thanks to the generosity and goodwill of the Irish people, in the form of pledged accommodation. In many cases, these pledgers have provided more than just a home; they have extended the hand of friendship and have given extremely valuable emotional and practical support to refugees, which has had a hugely positive impact on integration. The remaining 30 properties were drawn from private rented accommodation. The 83 properties were utilised to house refugees transitioning out of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROCs) into the community to begin their lives in Ireland.
The Irish Red Cross has supported a total of 146 refugees to date – 53 people in 17 family groups and 68 single people while 25 single refugees are waiting for suitable housing options to come available to move out of EROCs.
Community Sponsorship Ireland programme
The Community Sponsorship Ireland programme will see sponsored refugees go directly to the community upon arrival to begin the process of resettlement. The responsibilities of the Community Sponsorship Groups will include assisting refugees to find suitable accommodation in the community, assisting them to register and engage with state service providers and civil society, orienting refugees to life in the community and linking refugees with appropriate language training and employment and education pathways in the community. The sponsors will also offer informal local mechanisms such as sports and community activities which will help refugees become socially included.
Regional Support Organisation (RSO)
In addition to playing a role to support the Irish Refugee Protection Programme with oversight of Community Sponsorship Ireland, the Irish Red Cross will also be acting as a Regional Support Organisation (RSO) within the Community Sponsorship Ireland structure during the pilot phase. This will see the Irish Red Cross provide the necessary training, advice, guidance and support to interested community members who come together to form a Community Sponsorship Group. These groups will register with the RSO and will then complete a detailed application form, undertake training and develop a settlement plan, under the guidance of the Irish Red Cross.
The development of a new Community Sponsorship Programme represents the fulfilment by Ireland of an important commitment expressed in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016 to expand and develop resettlement, humanitarian admission programmes and other legal pathways to admission, including private/community sponsorship.
Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP)
In 2015, the Irish government established the IRPP in response to the humanitarian crisis which developed in southern Europe due to mass forced displacement from conflict areas, particularly in the Middle East. The IRPP has the responsibility of ensuring Ireland meets its commitment to take in 4,000 persons in need of international protection. Since its establishment, the IRPP has accepted over 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers and aims to take in many more in coming years through both state-centred and community-sponsored streams. Situated within the Department of Justice and Equality, IRPP is the body primarily responsible for the development and oversight of Community Sponsorship Ireland.
Documents relating to Community Sponsorship Ireland include
CSI - Guidance for Sponsors
CSI - Application Form
CSI - Settlement Plan Template
CSI - Policy Framework
If you are interested in finding out how your local community can sponsor a refugee family, please phone 01-642 4600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org