Volunteer Opportunity: Independent Youth Advocate

Posted On: September 22, 2016

This recruitment call is now closed

Join the Irish Refugee Council’s dedicated team as a volunteer advocate, working directly with young asylum seekers and refugees as they navigate the asylum process and adjust to life in Ireland.

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC)

The IRC is Ireland’s only national non-governmental organisation which specialises in working with and for asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland. The IRC’s priorities are: delivering high quality legal support to asylum seekers; supporting and protecting children and young people in the asylum system; raising public awareness; and building the capacity of key players in the asylum system in order to bring about change in practice and policy. For more about the IRC visit www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie.

The Independent Advocacy Programme

The IAP is an advocacy, mentorship and befriending programme where young asylum seekers are matched with volunteer advocates. The advocates meet with them regularly to provide friendship, advice and support in regard to the asylum process and other aspects of the young person’s life. The advocate also helps ensure that the young person’s views are heard, advocating for them or empowering them to advocate on their own behalf. The young people involved in this project are usually between the ages of 17 and 21. Blow is further information on this programme. The programme works primarily with young people who came to Ireland as unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied minors have often suffered severe trauma in their countries of origin and on their journeys to Ireland. These young people have been separated from their caregivers, support networks, and country.

This group of young people ‘age out’ of the Irish care system as they approach 18 and enter the Direct Provision system. Along with having to deal with the legal complexities of claiming asylum, they are dispersed to shared hostel style accommodation across the country that is often extremely unsuitable for their needs and are unable to work or access most further education and training options.

Role

The advocates will gain experience in working with this group of young people on a one-to-one basis, will develop a deep understanding of the asylum process and will have the opportunity to become an important and strategic part of the work of the Irish Refugee Council. The advocate works with the young person to develop a ‘goals plan’ which will set out a number of goals and objectives (big and small) which the pair can work to achieve together. What advocates and young people do when they meet varies depending on the interests of the young person. Past activities have included going for coffee or lunch, going to the cinema, and going bowling.

Through regular one-on-one meetings you as an advocate will:

• Offer support and friendship
• Promote the young person’s integration into Irish society
• Empower the young person to have their views heard and considered
• Provide relevant information on services and supports available to the young person
• Help to explore options and goals with the young person

In addition, the role involves raising any child protection concerns to the Project Coordinator and some informal reporting in order to aid the strategic work of the IRC.

Time Commitment

The number of visits between the child and the advocate is determined by the individual young person’s needs, some may meet once per week, while others may choose to meet once every two or three weeks. However, in the initial stages of the relationship we recommend that a meeting would occur at least once every two weeks. Each advocacy relationship will have an initial agreement of 6 months.

Support and Supervision

While the role of advocate will require a large degree of independence there will be on-going, formal and informal support and supervision from the Project Coordinator.

Location

We are looking for advocates across Ireland. As the children and young people participating in the programme may live across the country in direct provision centres, foster placements or in their own accommodation, advocates will be matched with participants on a geographical basis, in order to best support the relationship.

Person Specification

The IRC is seeking to recruit and train a team of ten dedicated Volunteer Advocates. Knowledge, Skills and Attributes:

• Experience working with children and young people
• A commitment to social justice and Human Rights
• A knowledge of issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland
• Reliability, and commitment to the relationship they are entering into
• Strong interpersonal communication skills
• An ability to work independently and on their own initiative
• An appreciation of confidentiality and Child Protection standards

Desirable

• Experience working with vulnerable children or young people
• Experience working with migrant groups
• Language skills
• Mentoring experience

Training

Advocates will undergo a short, comprehensive IRC training programme at our offices in Dublin 2. Training will take place at weekends to facilitate volunteers who work full time.

References and Vetting

All volunteers will be required to be Garda vetted prior to starting work with young people. In addition, the IRC will seek appropriate references.

Expenses

Although this a voluntary position, expenses will be provided to cover the cost of each meeting (transport, activities, phone credit etc.) as well as costs associated with attending training at our offices in Dublin.

Application

If you are interested in this position please send a CV and a cover letter detailing how you match the person specification and why you are interested in becoming an Advocate to sara@irishrefugeecouncil.ie by 9.00 am on Monday 10th of October.