CULTUR COVID-19 NEEDS/ IMPACT ASSESSMENT

Cultúr Migrant Centre is hoping to learn more about how COVID-19 has impacted migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and what supports are needed. There are 38 short questions in relation to COVID-19, employment/ unemployment, education, mental health and housing. Please answer as many questions as possible and select all answers that apply to your situation. The responses to these questions are anonymous. The data obtained will contribute to Cultur’s work and may be used to inform a report on the impact of COVID-19 on Migrants. We would like to thank you for your participation.

Please use the attached link below.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P9SFTGK

Submission to the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process

Cultur Migrants Centre Position on Direct Provision

“The current system of DP is not fit for purpose and was not designed for long term living. It is unjust and we will continue to campaign and call for change in how applicants of the international protection process are accommodated. We believe there needs to be a shift of minds and a total transformation to improve the quality of life for those seeking asylum in Ireland and the protection system itself”.

 

Submission to the Advisory Group on the Protection Process Introduction

This submission was developed by resident leaders in Mosney and supported by Cultúr Migrants Centre.
Cultur welcomes the Advisory Group’s decision to invite submissions from community groups working with people in the International Protection Process. We view it as an important step and opportunity in the process to allow the voices of Asylum Seekers to be listened to and acted upon. This submission we envisage would be discussed and would inform the deliberations of the Advisory group. As we appreciate and value the inputs of all the members, groups, individuals, we would expect the same from them in respecting and taking cognisance of the issues raised by asylum seekers themselves.

 

Mosney Accommodation Centre: local context

The Mosney Accommodation Centre in Co. Meath is one of the largest centres in Ireland. It currently accommodates approximately 698 people of whom 51.8% (362) are children under 18 years of age. (November 2019 Mosney figures). The centre is located near a busy main road and is cut off from the local community in an area of East Meath that has experienced a large population growth not matched by the level of services and supports from community, voluntary and statutory agency. Although Mosney is located geographically in Co. Meath, its hinterland is Drogheda Co. Louth and is where most of those living in the centre would gravitate towards for services. Children attend schools in Meath and Louth and very little contact exists between the non-formal education and youth services that exist in local areas and young people in Mosney.


What are the main challenges that you have experienced during your stay in Direct Provision?
Asylum Seekers are a marginalised group they face challenges throughout their stay in direct provision such as;


 

Poverty: parents in Direct Provision often struggle to buy/rent books and uniforms. Additionally, they do not have the pocket money or extra money for their children to participate in school trips or afterschool activities which often take place within school time. The rate of €38.80 per week and the back to school allowance is not enough. Child benefit should be universal for all children.

Mental health issues and other health issues are prevalent in direct provision as a direct result of institutional living e.g. not being able to work, not knowing your future and feelings of hopelessness and desperation from all the years of being kept in limbo. Dietary issues resulting from unhealthy foods (chips and sausages everyday as an afterschool snack, for example) resulting in childhood obesity or children have suffered from malnourishment resulting in poor health.

Dignity and Privacy of Family Life is denied in direct provision: Overcrowding to the extent that children share rooms with every person in their family, including their parents, is not in the best interest of the developing child, especially those reaching adolescence. Children over 10 years should not be sharing rooms with siblings and parents of same or opposite gender. The tensions and pressures on family and parental relationships have in some cases resulted in family break ups and access to privacy is extremely difficult in close living quarters.

Discrimination and Stigma: Children in DP face the stigma of living in a ‘hostel’ this results in low self-esteem and has led to bullying in school in some cases. Children from Mosney arrive on the bus from Mosney and are clearly identifiable as living in direct provision. They are not treated equally as other children are when they leave 2nd level education and are not facilitated to attend 3rd level, thus not being able to achieve their potential with their peers.


How can living conditions and quality of life in Direct Provision centres be improved?


The current system of DP is not fit for purpose and was not designed for long term living. It is unjust and inhumane we will continue to campaign and call for an end of the system we believe there needs to be a shift of minds and a total transformation to improve the quality of life for those seeking asylum in Ireland and the protection system itself. In the interim however we like to see an immediate change in the following areas:

Child safety and protection: children should have adequate playing and sleeping spaces and the parents should be allowed to parent their children in an uncontrolled environment. Living in an open centre and being able to protect children presents challenges as often you do not know who you are living beside or those who come to work in centres.

The length of time for those coming into direct provision should be time bound limited to 6 months: a 2014 research report on children’s needs in Co. Meath stated that: “Given that 90% of asylum seekers suffer from depression after six months in direct provision, the needs of the children residing in (direct provision) should be considered particularly with regard to recreational and mental health issues.”(An Audit of Services and Needs Analysis of Children’s Services, Meath Children’s Services Committee Report, 2014)

Living arrangements: No more than two adults per room where adults must share, to avoid religious, gender, intercultural and ethnic diversity issues. Management should respond to complaints of this nature swiftly.

Training of staff-All centres should have trained staff who undergo integration and anti- racism training and other relevant people management training.

All centres should meet best quality standards and be independently assessed by the Health Information and Quality Standards Authority like other residential institutions in the state.

Dedicated advocates including community and voluntary organisations to be allowed open access to all centres to ensure that residents have the same level of supports as the wider community and resources should be made available to relevant community and voluntary organisations to provide this support.


Tell us how supports (e.g. financial, educational, health) provided to asylum seekers, both inside and outside the Direct Provision system, could be improved.


1. Short term (up to 1 year)
Access to accredited training services SOLAS (formerly FÁS) and ETB courses for those over 18 who have been in the system for 12 months or more and to end the current restrictions for asylum seekers
Access to the labour market for ALL those who have been in the system over 9 months
Supported self-catering facilities-residents should be able to prepare their own meals. It is happening in some centres but should be extended to all
Direct provision allowance to be increased in line with the rate of inflation.

2. Medium Term (within 18 months)

An information and financial package should be made available to support those who are in transition from direct provision to life in the community. In this case there is an onus on state agencies to engage directly with centres to ensure that all the relevant supports are in place so those leaving direct provision are clear about the supports available to them, are clear about their rights and entitlements and can navigate the relevant services. We are concerned that many people leave direct provision are institutionalised and are unaware of the systems and procedures. In Co. Meath the lack of affordable accommodation has resulted in number residents who received permission to remain returning to Mosney or remaining on for several months due to the lack of affordable accommodation, no deposit and often no references.


How have you experienced the asylum application process? Suggest ways it could be improved.


“For most residents in Mosney who are now at the end of the application process and ours has been a tiresome and painful journey. In a new Asylum and Protection system we would like to see the following in place in the application process:

• Early legal advice based on best practice and human rights principles to ensure those applying for asylum has the best advice and supports in making their application. This would save time in the system and resources of the state.

Conclusion Cultur would like to see all recommendations on DP that have come from previous and this working group implemented swiftly in the short term. In the medium term we would like to see an overhaul of the Asylum and Protection system and real reform of the asylum process in Ireland.

This would require short, medium- and long-term solutions:

1. A reformed reception system for those who arrive to Ireland of no longer than 3-6 months with an independent monitoring by HIQA. Centres should be run on a not for profit basis with models from other countries examined on how best to do this
2. All Asylum seekers given the right to work after a period in the country after 9 months to avoid deskilling and loss of educational attainment
3. The right to early legal advice and supports in making an application for asylum
4. Clearing of the backlog of current applications
5. Community, voluntary and statutory agencies be supported and resourced to work directly with asylum seekers to ensure the realisation of their rights, address the inequalities they experience as a result of the system of DP and support their social inclusion within the local communities in which they live with their families in dignity.

We welcome the invitation to the consultation process by the Advisory Group. Contact person for this submission: Reuben Hambakachere, community worker Cultúr. [email protected] 046 9093120 or 0861994655

 

 

 

R4

Anti-Racism Event

On the 26th of June 2020 we hosted our first virtual Anti-Racism Event “Hear Our Voices, Racism is Our Experience” that was prompted by our social media campaign.

PEIL – participants success story

Eva is originally from Brazil. She came to Ireland in 2013 to study English. Eva worked in the hospitality sector when she first came to Ireland, working in Restaurants in Dublin. Eva move to Navan in 2017 but struggled to get a job.

‘I would go to the library every day. I would send lots of CVs. I must have sent over 200 CVs while I was looking for a job. From March 2018 to October 2018 I was looking for work. It felt like such a long time’.  

I started the Cambridge Business English classes with Cultúr in September 2018 and started working with Pauline the Job Coach around that time. First, I want to thank Joanna, who was my first contact and was always helpful and made me feel welcome.

Second, I want to thank Pauline for her help. When I started the course in Cultur I had been looking for a job for a while, and my meetings with Pauline helped me to improve my CV, and gave me confidence in my skills. At first, I found a temporary 3 months job, that now has been renewed for the third time and will lead me to a permanent position.  I want to thank all the teachers. With their guidance I approved the Vantage test of Cambridge Business English.

Thanks to all of you! You made a big difference in my life.

 

Eva is now really happy with her position and looks forward to what the future holds for her.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My name is Zkriat  and I have been a member of Cultúr for seven years now. I first found out about Cultúr through one of my friends who referred me to their women’s group in 2013. In 2014 I became the leader of the women’s group but I stepped down as leader in September last year due to personal reasons. The women’s group is a safe place for women to go to talk about their issues and struggles with people who can empathise and help them with some of their issues. It is a place where women feel empowered and make new friendships.

 

Other than being a part of the women’s group I have also taken part in many other courses and events with Cultúr such as a jewelry making course in march 2018, integration training in june 2018, and a personal development course in 2019. I also participate in Cultúr`s monthly  migrant forum. These courses were very beneficial to me as I picked up many skills that I now use in my everyday life. I have also met many of my friends through these courses and find all the teachers to be very helpful.

 

In the beginning I found these courses to be especially hard for me as English is my second language. I had struggled greatly with English but through Cultúr I joined some English courses. English courses which I have taken part in included Cambridge Business English commenced in August 2017 and Cambridge English attended by me in 2018 and 2019. I feel these courses have really helped me to improve my English. Possibility to continuously attend consecutive course levels assures students progression in learning English.

 

Through Cultúr I have also been given many opportunities to further my education. Through Cultúr I have started a community development course at LMETB and I am now on level 5. In the future I hope to continue on with my education and find a place of employment.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

I participated in Cambridge Business English Course Vantage Level (B2) that took place from August to November 2019. This course took place twice a week over twelve weeks. The classes prepared me for the Cambridge Business English (BEC) Vantage Exam that I took place on 30th of November 2019.

During this period, I have had a chance to meet other adult professionals who wanted to improve their business language skills. This course was essential for me as I was between jobs at that time and carving social interactions. I met great fellow students and we had the opportunity to learn from each other as well.

Classes were not limited to grammar and vocabulary. We also had a chance to improve speaking, presentation and writing skills and get a good knowledge of several business topics. During this time, I also took part in a carrier planning session. Which gave me the chance to get help with developing my CV. I also had a tremendous mock interview session.

The overall atmosphere and very positive feedback from my tutor John and job coach Pauline helped me to be more confident at interviews. I could now apply a more strategic approach and get better prepared for job interviews. After several rounds of these sessions, I got job offers from two separate companies Microsoft and Kaseya.

I took the course quite seriously, and I studied at home a lot. As a dyslexic  person, writing poses the biggest challenge for me. Therefore, I created several texts for possible topics, and my tutor was happy to correct them and give me useful tips.

 

I feel the exam went really favourably for me, and I secured enough points to get an A mark and a Cambridge Business English Certificate BEC on a C1 level.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My name is Svetlana  and I am from Lithuania .

I have been living in Ireland for 8 years

mde

Before I took part in Cambridge English at Cultúr I was nervous about speaking English, I would usually get stuck repeating the same sentence over and over again. I was afraid to say any words, I was afraid to open mouth, I was afraid to make a mistake. I would stand in the corner of the room just to avoid any questions or conversations.

 

I now speak English at the beginner level, but I rarely use it in my daily life. I work as a housekeeper in a large Hotel and most of my day-to-day work is with Polish or Lithuanian people. At home and with my friends I mostly speak Lithuanian.

 

I went to English classes in Navan twice a week because I really wanted to improve my English. I had a dream of getting a new job, but I know that my English level was not high enough. I wanted to enjoy my life, to became stronger and confident when speaking English.

 

Deciding to take the Cambridge courses, was my best decision. I am still a little nervous but now I am not afraid to speak. I have learned some strategies and I know that I can do it step by step.

 

After completing the Cambridge English course, I have participated in meetings and made presentations and now enjoy talking with others. I think the most important thing is I have stopped feeling shy.

 

image

COVID – 19 Support Line

Meath Co. Council have established a new community support line to assist older or vulnerable people who are recommended to cocoon and remain in their homes during this current period of the emergency.
If you are one of these people, or if you know of someone who needs assistance with practical matters such as:➡️ collecting medical and food supplies,
➡️ transport to attend a medical appointment
➡️ or another need,

please contact free-phone number: 1800 808 809 between 9am-5pm. The line is a seven day service and is operational from Monday, March 30th.

This service is being provided at county level in cooperation with a number of public agencies, NGOs, local groups, sports clubs and others

#TogetherAgainnnstRacism

Today we at Cultúr are marking a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Ireland home.

According to Ireland Network Against Racism RACISM is: Any action, practice, policy, law, speech, or incident which has the effect (whether intentional or not) of undermining anyone’s enjoyment of their human rights, based on their actual or perceived ethnic or national origin or background, where that background is that of a marginalised or historically subordinated group. Racism carries connotations of violence because the dehumanisation of ethnic groups has been historically enforced through violence.

In other words, racism is when an individual, group, structure or institution intentionally or unintentionally abuse their power to the detriment of people, because of their actual or perceived “racialised” background.

You may have seen racism in your school, workplace and community. You can be a powerful voice against it: you can make a difference.

Join our campaign to raise awareness of racism, how it works, the damage it causes and how we can recognise and reject it by liking, loving and sharing this post.

If you wish to contribute to this campaign, please express your thoughts, views and experiences on racism in Ireland by following us on FB and Instagram. See links below.

https://www.instagram.com/cultur_ireland/?hl=en

Let us stand against racism!