Social Work and Social Inclusion
Inner City Helping Homeless, Belfast and Dublin.
Liz lives in Belfast yet drives down to Dublin one night a week to volunteer as a team leader for Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) on their outreach service. Without fail come rain, hail or shine Liz makes the long journey down to Dublin and back. She also reguarly makes the trip to Dublin for ICHH fundraising events and awareness events. She has done the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon in the lashings of rain for ICHH while pushing her mam’s wheelchair around the route as well. She also reguarly collects donations of sleeping bags and other essential items for the charity.
Aside from this, Liz also does one night a week on a soup run in Waring Street in Belfast serving food and supplies to the rough sleepers in the area. As well as her work helping the homeless both north and south of the border Liz is a weekly visitor to Mosney Direct Provision Centre dropping off donations for adults and children alike.
According to Brian who nominated her “Liz goes above and beyond consistently in her volunteer work. She never fails to amaze us by proactively arranging donations of essential supplies for ICHH while also doing the same for the Belfast soup run and the people living in direct provision. Liz’s passion is second to none. I don’t know many people that would drive from Belfast to Dublin in all weather conditions at 10pm at night to volunteer helping the homeless in Dublin. No weather will stop her helping others and she never ever complains.”
Croí na Gaillimhe, Galway.
Marian has been to the forefront of asylum seeker and refugee support in Galway for almost 20 years. She first got involved in the late 90’s with a small group who painted over racist graffiti in Galway city. From there, she was a founder member of the Galway Refugee Support Group volunteering in all aspects of the service, including board membership. For the past four years Marian has been volunteering with Croi na Gaillimhe Resource Centre (SVP).
Croi na Gaillimhe is a city centre based resource centre offering a range of social and educational supports. The centre relies on a team of 60 weekly volunteers to deliver its services and as well as offering services to all members of the public, it offers specific services to people living in the two direct provision centres in Galway. Marian leads one of these teams supporting people with their International Protection Office questionnaires and preparation for asylum seeker interviews and appeals. She volunteers approximately 20 hours per week doing case work and country of origin research. This is intensive work, often requiring long hours of work doing an individual timeline outlining some ones reasons for leaving their country and examining why they can’t return.
In 2014 she established a specialist team of case workers and interpreters, offering one to one support to people as they prepared for their interview with the Department of Justice. This involves preparing a detailed timeline of the sequence of event/s which lead to a person leaving their country of origin and reasons why they cannot return. Marian spends time with each client, working to ensure that they present as accurate account of their story as possible. She regularly provides legal teams with the critical country of origin material which can change the outcome for the person.
Social Inclusion and Supports to Asylum Seekers, Mayo.
Owodunni, known as Ola, is an asylum seeker living in the Old Convent – Direct Provision Centre in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, for more than five years. Educated in Political Science in Nigeria but prohibited to engage in employment, she committed to give her skills, passion, potential and energy to volunteer for her fellow asylum seekers living in the Direct Provision Centre in Ballyhaunis.
In the last two years, Ola started to build herself up as a community leader by taking care and standing up for the issues and needs of other fellow residents. Her voice, resilience, leadership skills, passion for inclusion brought to life several projects and initiatives for people in the centre. Some of these initiatives include coffee mornings, Christmas voucher appeals, doantion drives, social trips and skills programmes – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Thanks to her passion for the life of the Centre’s community, Ola has succeeded in setting up a Residents Committee in the Centre. This is a very hard task to mobilise people living in the diverse environment of Direct Provision to take on leadership roles. After several attempts she succeeded to bring together a group of women who took inspiration from Ola’s commitment, drive and passion. Since setting up, the committee members are actively involved in planning and bringing to life the inclusion and integration projects and initiatives. For example they organised a fantastic Intercultural Day in Ballyhaunis in July this year.
Ola has become a passionate and prominent voice of her fellow residents. She has spoken widely on the injustices of Direct Provision system, issues asylum seekers experience in Ireland and their willingness to integrate and contribute to local life. She also write poetry and recently contributed to the Irish anthology project that will be launched in November and wrote a contribution for MASI’s journal.