Effective inclusion starts at a local level- conference hears
Representatives from nearly all local authorities in Ireland gathered today (24.09.19) to share learning and expertise on the best approaches to migrant integration in local communities.
Joe O’Brien, Integration Officer, Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “It’s clear from today the energy and enthusiasm from local authorities to promote integration and inclusion. There are many effective approaches having a real impact among communities, but there is appetite for more. This requires ongoing investment and prioritisation from national government as well as local authorities.”
Uruemu Adejinmi, Longford Intercultural Working Group, Longford County Council, said, “I am part of the Longford Intercultural Working Group and brought to it my own links with the Longford African Network. As part of the Intercultural Strategy we linked in with existing activities and events and ensured we had a presence – for example bringing along African foods to local festivals and on St Patrick’s Day we had a lot of African performers. The children in particular were so excited to be involved, it was such a great, inclusive atmosphere.
“The Integration Strategy is a success in Longford because of the wide stakeholder engagement – which includes the County Council alongside such diverse groups as the ETBs, the PPN, Tusla and the local Gardaí among others. Another important lesson we have learned is to have links with local leaders from different migrant community groups to inform work and also share information about upcoming events.”
Maria Minguella, Cork City Council and City of Sanctuary Movement, said, “There was a huge appetite for action within communities and it was really important for us to speak with local, grassroots groups first to hear what they wanted. There was a lot of activity already going on to link in with, and the City of Sanctuary Movement is all about people, organisations and agencies taking ownership of their cities, which was a great format to work with. Our work has been facilitated by Cork City Council, but we realised we didn’t have to wait for a strategy to be written before we could take action!”
Graham Cifford, Together Ireland, said, “We look at how everyone in a town can benefit from community integration, not just the migrant. We are seeking to establish day-to-day avenues for community integration using existing structures already in the town, such as local sports clubs, dram groups, choirs and Tidy Towns. While one-off intercultural events are good, to be most effective, they should complement an existing local strategy for community integration. We believe funding isn’t the key: conversation is.”
Contact: Pippa Woolnough, Communications and Advocacy Manager, Immigrant Council of Ireland, firstname.lastname@example.org, 085 864 0682
This conference is supported by funding from the Asylum and Migrant Integration Fund, administered by the Department of Justice and Equality.