6 March 2019 -
The Irish Refugee Council, the Irish Red Cross and Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre welcome the official launch today by Minister David Stanton of Ireland’s Community Sponsorship Programme.  Each organisation will be a ‘Regional Support Organisation’ and will support communities across Ireland to become sponsors of refugees in the initial pilot phase of the Programme over the next 12 months.

Around the world Community Sponsorship has proved to be enriching and rewarding for both communities and refugees. It allows communities to be part of the response to the ongoing humanitarian refugee crisis in a real and life changing way. Communities commit to formally supporting people for 18 months to rebuild their lives and become active members of their community.

Nasc CEO Fiona Finn,
“The first family to arrive through this programme were welcomed to Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath just before Christmas, and with the help of a fantastic community sponsor group there, they are already very settled and feel part of the community.

The Minister is meeting the Syrian refugee family, who had been living in a refugee camp in Lebanon, and members of the community sponsor group today in Dunshaughlin as part of the launch of the Government programme.

Al Sulaiman Family resettled with support from Wicklow community and NASC

Nasc supported the community group in Dunshaughlin in applying to become a Community Sponsor Group and getting ready for the family to arrive, and we are delighted to see this programme being rolled out across communities throughout Ireland.”

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said,

“Many communities across Ireland are ready, willing and able to become community sponsors – to welcome refugees into their communities, identify housing, and provide support and assistance in integrating into Irish society, such as learning English, accessing education and finding employment.

A community can take many forms and as a support organisation we are hoping to engage education bodies, sports clubs, parishes and local communities and help them in the sponsorship process. After nearly four decades of Community Sponsorship in Canada countless studies have shown that a majority of Canadians hold positive views towards refugees. This opportunity for direct community support and involvement is also welcome and important and we believe will have huge benefits for both the refugee and community.”

Eve Leonard, Irish Red Cross Migration Department Manager said,

“The Irish Red Cross welcomes Community Sponsorship to Ireland. We believe this initiative will bring valuable support to newly-arrived refugees who are resettling in Ireland and establishing a new life.

The Irish Red Cross has valuable experience in this area through its implementation of the Register of Pledges programme which has demonstrated that direct practical, social and emotional support provided by Irish people directly to newly-arrived refugees can lead to tangible integration outcomes which enhances access to local services, employment and education opportunities, and improves the overall experience of resettling. The Irish Red Cross is currently supporting Salvation Army ‘Home from Home – D6’ in the establishment of their Community Sponsorship Group in Dublin.”

The Irish Government committed in 2017 to developing community sponsorship and Minister Stanton has been a strong champion for ensuring it is successfully rolled out nationally.  Community Sponsorship enables communities to play an active role in welcoming refugees, by providing some forms of in-kind support as well as social and/or emotional support to refugees in the local community. The supports include meeting people at the airport; providing a warm welcome and cultural orientation; providing housing; furniture; supporting access to medical and social services; English language tuition; and support towards employment and self-sufficiency.  Such initiatives not only provide a real future for the refugees themselves but also have proven to bring communities closer together.

The Irish Red Cross, the Irish Refugee Council and Nasc have helped design the national Community Sponsorship programme in collaboration with UNHCR, Amnesty International Ireland, the Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition, the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative and officials in the Department of Justice. The three organisations will also be available to provide support to communities throughout Ireland who are interested in sponsoring a refugee family.  Information about how to become a sponsor group, and how to get in touch with a regional support organisation in your area, are available on the Department of Justice’s website and on each organisation’s website, from today.

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For further information about Community Sponsorship and how your community can get involved email our Integration Projects Manager, Rory O' Neill. 

Email Rory