Service maps for young people in the asylum process show direct provision system is a major barrier to integration

Posted On: December 13, 2011

Senator Jillian van Turnhout launches the Irish Refugee Council’s project ‘Mapping Services for Young People in the Asylum Process’ at 4pm today (13/12/11) in Crosscare’s Youth  Aftercare Support Services.  The project aims to foster the integration of children and young people living in Direct Provision in the local community through providing information on mainstream youth services in a child-friendly poster format.

Senator van Turnhout, who is also outgoing Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says:  “One third of all Direct Provision residents are under 18, that is over 2,000 children  growing up in poverty and in an institutionalised environment where they can easily become isolated from their peers and their local community.  Direct provision, is not well designed  for, nor supportive, of childhood or parenting, and has a detrimental effect on the positive development of children.  The mapping project opens up local services to these children and is a first step towards their integration. The children in Direct Provision are children first and have a right to the same support, social interaction and broader educational opportunities that an Irish child has.”

The project focusses on eleven communities, across eight counties where Direct Provision accommodation centres are located.  Information on local services and activities was compiled and presented in colourful posters and pamphlets to be displayed in the reception areas of the accommodation centres where parents and children would be able to see the posters  anytime they passed through reception.  There are approximately 1700 residents across the accommodation centres involved in the project, a third of which are children.

The Irish Refugee Council also met with youth services, families, young people and managers of the accommodation centres to measure the levels of existing engagement.

Samantha Arnold says: “The main barrier for young people accessing mainstream youth services is the family’s financial situation.  Asylum seekers receive a weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child, so it is simply not possible for children to have pocket money for trips or money for sports equipment.  The lack of transportation between Direct Provision
centres and local towns places an obstacle to integration.  Centres are often isolated and the young people are dependent on infrequent free transportation organised by the centre; these typically do not allow for young people to participate in youth clubs or afterschool activities.

“Direct Provision has been shown to have a negative impact on mental and physical health so it is especially important for the children living in Direct Provision accommodation to have the benefit of the support of their peers and local youth services.”

Early in 2012, the Irish Refugee Council will roll out the second phase of the project by inviting youth services to an ‘information day’ at each centre to introduce their services to young residents and their parents.

The mapping project was funded by the Community Foundation for Ireland

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Further information

Sharon Waters                             085  8585 510