After years spent in the institutional environment of Direct Provision, there is a moral responsibility to support individuals, children and families who have received their status, to secure appropriate accommodation and to assist them with the challenges of transitioning to life in the community.

This participative study was carried out in partnership with the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) between March and November 2015. It aims to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of those who have been granted refugee status, or other forms of protection, as they transition from Direct Provision (DP) accommodation to life in the community. The project looks at people’s hopes, fears, challenges and opportunities and how the existing structures support or hinder the transition process. We will consider how life in DP and a protracted decision-making process contributes to the immediate challenges of integration and a longer-term legacy of adjustment to everyday life in the community.

Transitions are usually precarious. The move from the familiar to the unknown often encompasses a mix of fear and joy as those poised on a life threshold can but anticipate the complex, often unpredictable dimensions of what is to come. In relation to transitoning from DP, after years of institutionalised living, many may feel a great sense of relief and satisfaction that their application for protection has been granted, and also a sense of freedom and excitement about the future. However, those leaving DP are also likely to experience anxiety as they face difficult social, economic and cultural challenges. Years spent with little autonomy or privacy may have a detrimental impact on individual and family life, and on physical and mental wellbeing. With few economic resources, recent employment experience or qualifications, people must locate accommodation in an unfamiliar cultural context, where rented properties are in short supply. They must look for work with skills and capacities that may be unrecognised or obsolete and, often with limited social networks, they will need to navigate a complicated welfare system (Crosscare et al., 2014).

In the pages of this report we find evidence of how these significant challenges played out in the lives of 22 people awarded status in the Irish system. The focus is not on DP itself but rather on the transition from the dependency that charaterises living in state-run institutions to the challenges of autonomously establishing one’s life in the broader Irish community. The report is presented in five chapters:

  • Chapter One provides a background to the DP system in Ireland and explores relevant literature relating to the DP system and relating to transitions. 
  • Chapter Two examines the research data by looking at how life in DP has an impact on what is to follow. It also looks at people’s responses when the long awaited letter of acceptance is received. 
  • Chapter Three looks at the journey that begins when status is achieved and as people try to make the move out of DP. In particular, it explores the challenges that people face as they attempt to make the transition out of DP. 
  • Chapter Four focuses on the evidence in the data about education, employment and family reunification.
  • Chapter Five presents evidence-based recommendations about how the process of transition might be improved and strengthened by paying attention to the views and experiences of those who have undertaken this journey.

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