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The ERF funds Westmeath Community Development to collaborate with key statutory, community and voluntary organisations to promote the reception and integration of asylum seekers and refugees. The project uses a community development approach to address the issues faced by the target group.
A key aim of the project is to develop and deliver the first phase of the                          Westmeath Integration Strategy. This process is now underway and has been endorsed by Westmeath County Development Board. The Integration Centre and Westmeath Co. Council are key project partners in this initiative. Westmeath Co. Council has also contributed co-funding for the development of the strategy.
In addition to the integration strategy, Westmeath Refugee and Asylum Seeker Integration Project, focuses on the following areas:
  • English language provision

  • Increasing participation in Irish sporting and social life and youth activities
  • Supporting local volunteer groups working with migrants to strengthen their capacity
  • Increasing access for asylum seekers / refugees to participate in training and development opportunities
  • Improving access to information and advocacy
  • Providing support to particularly isolated or vulnerable asylum seekers
  • Raising awareness and appreciation of asylum seekers and refugees amongst the wider community.
 The project completed in October 2013.
Case Study
The Accommodation Centre at Lissywoollen is a focal point for our interaction with asylum seekers. The site is a direct provision facility for families. It consists of 100 mobile homes and a central service building with a canteen, laundry facilities, games room and meeting rooms. Typical occupancy is around 360 people. Just over two thirds of residents are children.
From the outset, we took time to identify the key stakeholders and service providers operating at the centre. We now link in with other organisations to provide direct supports, information and advocacy to asylum seekers living on the site.
A key achievement of the project has been the growth and development of a peer-led Residents Group on the accommodation site. The Residents Group was supported to carry out family fun days, Santa’s Grotto and a talent competition for children and young people.
The Residents Group has now strengthened its capacity and has adopted formal committee structures. It plays a role in negotiating with site management, preparing information resources, channelling information queries and identifying asylum seekers who are in need of more intensive support. It has worked with other groups such as Athlone Community Radio, Upholding Youth Group and Athlone Women’s Network to help bring services onto the accommodation site and to enable asylum seekers to participate more in the wider community. In addition, the Residents Group’s participation in the consultation process has ensured that the lived experiences of asylum seekers will be reflected and addressed by the Westmeath Integration Strategy.