This Irish Red Cross Migration Update includes:
• What we know about Ballaghaderreen • Our new migration team members • How the Irish Red Cross is helping migrants as they arrive • How we are streamlining services for migrants in Ireland through partnerships • The next steps for moving into pledged accommodation, • Community Cultural Awareness workshops
New points of contact for migrants
This week, our first Caseworker joined the team and a second will start next week. These caseworkers will be a point of contact for each migrant (or family) arriving as part of the IRPP plan. They will ascertain the needs of individuals and families. This will help to ensure appropriate accommodation placement and service provision.
We are establishing a team of volunteers in the initial reception centres who will be available to support the migrants with day to day needs, such as helping facilitate links with appropriate cultural supports and to find their way around the community. Any linkages with statutory agencies will be organised and managed by the Irish Red Cross caseworkers.
As requested by the Department of Justice and Equality, during 2016 the Irish Red Cross provided arrival and transport assistance at Dublin Airport for newly-arrived migrants. We also provided initial integration supports such as hygiene kits upon arrival and clothing assistance while in reception centres. Our team witnessed emotional scenes whilst welcoming the last group to arrive in 2016, when a woman was reunited with her younger brother, her sister and mother. All of who were among the group arriving.
Partnerships and next steps for pledged accommodation
As you know from our email update in December we have entered into a partnership with Co-operative Housing Ireland (CHI). I am pleased to confirm that we have also entered a partnership between Arup, (engineering consultants) who will provide technical services, such as health and safety assessments of pledged accommodation.
With the assistance of Arup and CHI, we are currently arranging routine health and safety checks in the first 23 pledged properties to ensure they are suitable for individuals and families to move in early February.
It was announced last week that a property in Ballaghaderreen will be used by the Department of Justice and Equality as an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre (EROC) to accommodate a group of approximately 80 migrants due to arrive this month. This is not something that the Irish Red Cross was consulted on. We were informed by the department this week that this property was selected because it was the only one available that met their requirements and would be ready in reasonable time. We were also told that while the initial selection of a suitable EROC is to a large degree influenced by the availability of suitable properties consideration is also given to a number of factors including;
· The accommodation capacity of the EROC
· Its potential for on-site services
· The potential availability of school placements for children of a school going age
· The availability of GPs within reasonable travelling distance
· The proximity of local hospitals
· The experience of the location in welcoming asylum seekers previously
· Availability of other local services including public transport and shopping
· Potential for the centre managers to provide additional services to both residents and local population
· Potential benefits to local commerce
Migrants arriving under the IRPP are expected to reside in emergency accommodation for a minimum of six months while awaiting a determination on their refugee status (for those relocated from Greece and Italy) and while awaiting a suitable permanent housing solution to be identified for them (pledged or otherwise). It should be noted that permanent housing solutions involve a nation-wide strategy so there will only be a limited possibility that residents at the EROC in question will remain in the locality once they are given full refugees status.
Community Cultural Awareness Workshops
The Irish Red Cross currently has no official role in EROC’s, but we hope that we will be able to set up a ‘Buddy’ system between the people who will live there and our local volunteers and we will be able to offer cultural awareness workshops to support local communities. We’ll keep you posted as this develops.
The placements of migrants into pledged accommodation in local communities is now beginning. As the most suitable locations are finalised, contact will be made with our local Red Cross volunteers and with people who have pledged services to support the migrants as they settle into the pledged accommodation and their new community.
The Irish Red Cross will begin cultural awareness workshops around the country in February to ensure that our members and people who have pledged are well briefed and supported.
If you would like to volunteer to be a regional migration focal points as part of the Irish Red Cross Migration Team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.