Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

In the last few years, issues of displacement and resettlement for those seeking refuge from war and violence has become increasingly important across the world. Since 2011, the Syrian War has thrown millions of people into a state of displacement, travelling thousands of miles to seek asylum in countries in which they will be safe from war and persecution. European governments, including Ireland, in 2015-16 committed to resettling Syrian refugees in several EU countries through traditional government resettlement programmes. As the years draw on and many EU countries have broken promises or failed to meet quotas, alternative pathways to resettlement and integration are looking more attractive. These alternatives also appear to be more successful in the long term. 

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have already committed to helping them settle in and integrate into the community. The concept was created in Canada in the late 1970s, with 300,000 refugees successfully resettled since that time. It involves a community group who commit to providing financial, social and administrative support to a refugee family (or individual) and give them a helping hand into beginning their life in this community. The focus of community sponsorship, according to Nasc (the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre) is “promoting independence, agency and social inclusion for the [Community] Groups and the refugee families”. Generally, the Community Group fundraise a sum of money, source accommodation for the family, and provide language, healthcare and educational support to help the family integrate. Rather than being dropped into an unfamiliar country, often with an unfamiliar language and culture, forced to start from scratch; the family already have an in-built support system and social group to slot into and begin their new life.

In 2015, Ireland committed to resettling 4,000 refugees through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, of which community sponsorship was one strand. Just over 2,500 refugees have arrived in the four years since the IRPP began. In Ireland, the pilot scheme for Community Sponsorship was launched in 2017 with the first family arriving in Ireland in December 2018. The Al Fakir family from Syria were resettled in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, and quickly became involved in community activities such as the local ‘Park Run’, with their daughter Lorca attending a local primary school. Through community sponsorship, five Syrian families have been welcomed into communities in Cork, Meath and Waterford since the scheme was launched. Unlike people arriving into Direct Provision centres, those arriving into Ireland through Community Sponsorship have already been given refugee status and have been identified as needing resettlement. Community Sponsorship takes the responsibility of welcoming refugee families out of the hands of impersonal government officials and forms, and into the open arms of a community ready to welcome them with support and friendship. 

One Community Group who have made this commitment to welcome a refugee family are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in St Luke’s, Cork City who are working along with Nasc to resettle a family in their community. The group was established in the Spring of 2019, by a few members of the community who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis. Several of the members had been involved already with the work of Nasc, while for others this is their first taste of activism. One of the members, Jean, talked about how a leaflet through her door from St Luke’s Welcomes coincided with her watching the emotional RTÉ series Taken Down, inspiring her to act and get involved. The group are in the process of finding a house for the family to rent in the St Luke’s area, as well as fundraising an amount of around €10,000 to help with initial costs and support. One of the group members, Maria, who is also the Nasc Community Sponsorship Project Worker, outlined that this fundraised money would go towards things such as initial rent payments, transport costs, healthcare and dentistry needs, interpretation costs and English language tuition. The aim is that these costs will be taken over by the family once they have social welfare payments or an income, but they take away some of the extra hurdles to integration presented by emergency reception centres, which are often isolated from the community. 

Many members of the group believe that not only is Community Sponsorship simply a superior method than traditional resettlement, but it is particularly fitting for resettlement in Ireland. Ailbhe, a member of St Luke’s Welcomes, feels that Community Sponsorship is particularly suited to the Irish mentality and the welcoming nature of the way we live in communities in this country. She said that Irish people find it easier to get behind initiatives like this which avoid years and years of paperwork, and many people see Community Sponsorship as a refreshingly direct route compared to more traditional resettlement. All the members were surprised and touched by the level of positive response they had received from inside and outside of the St Luke’s community, with people approaching them offering many different forms of support and services.

 In modern Ireland, especially in cities like Cork, we often forget the importance of communities. Initiatives like this help to remind us of the benefit that having a community and support system around us has in helping integration and building relationships. Nasc describes how Community Sponsorship requires “hard work, imagination and […] commitment” and can empower not only the resettled family, but also the community that they are welcomed into; creating stronger bonds than may have ever been possible without it.

 

 

Photo by St Luke’s Welcomes

 

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What Do You Know About Direct Provision?

As the 2020 General Election is fast approaching, why not test your knowledge on one of Ireland’s biggest human rights issues of the last two decades; Direct Provision. Brush up on your facts and figures so you can quiz your local candidates and help keep Direct Provision at the front of the new Dáil’s minds!

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Genocide at the International Criminal Court

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43 People Die In Factory Fire In New Delhi

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UNCHR’s impact in war-torn Libya?

Recent investigations from Euronews into the work of the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, in Libya has revealed a culture of neglect. The UNHCR is under fire by human rights activists for its operations in the Northern African state. Many refugees and migrants seeking asylum end up in militia-run detention centres with little to no help from the UNHCR.

What is Russia doing in Africa?

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Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea. If you’ve missed the previous articles, you can find them here and here.

Andrea Horan is the owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical – a nail bar based on South William Street -, co-founder of the United Ireland podcast – which explores the problems facing Ireland and the world alongside Una Mullaly-, and co-founder of the group ‘no more hotels’ – a series of events based in Dublin to raise awareness of the importance of nightlife culture in Dublin city and the on-going housing crisis. She talked with me about what has influenced her life, her mental health and her self-care routine.

‘’I firmly believe that every moment has an equal impact on shaping my beliefs, approach and understanding of the world. Whether that’s a night spent clubbing or the death of my dad, both had an equal if very different effect on getting me to where I am now”, she started.

“I think the main thing everyone can do is to not post so much on social media and to understand and recognise the virtues of reaching out and talking to someone who is suffering or who is not quite themselves. Engaging in empathy at every level, and not just in a performative way can be the difference in making people feel less exposed” 

She continued – “My self-care routine is making sure I find the time to allocate enough time to doing things I love. Hanging out with friends, going dancing and partying, making sure I have enough downtime on my own. I get very claustrophobic if I’m surrounded by people all the time. It’s all about balancing my social and not so social sides!’’, she concluded.

As a writer and activist, I wanted to write this series on mental health because in this country we don’t talk enough about these issues, we don’t like telling people around us that we’re not feeling great. We, as a country, need to change the definition of mental health because we always think the worst of what mental health is. We need to understand it’s normal to go through depression, anxiety and stress because every single person we know has or is going to go through a similar experience as we do.

I could write a long-winded paragraph about what needs to change but all I’ll say is that we need to confront ignorance and toxic actions that lead people to suffer from mental health issues that we have all allowed grow in society. We need to do better.

 

Photo rights: Andrea Horan

 

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Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College, aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.” Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) launched their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. If you’ve missed it, you can read the first article here.

 

For this article, I spoke to Chuckles, an up-and-coming hip-hop artist from Dublin, who talked about how his music career has helped him to understand mental health. 

‘’I do believe being able to express myself through my music has helped me to cope with my mental health on multiple occasions. For a long-time I have suffered with my mental health with it leading me towards suicide and self-destruction. Hip-hop [allowed me] to say what is on my mind and take myself away from the situation. There are times where it’s hard to voice exactly how you are feeling but by sharing a song with someone, it can allow the listener to have a glimpse as to what’s in your head and heart,” confessed Chuckles

“I found some artists that can vocalise how you are trapped in your own little world, with no one to know,  such as Eminem, Token, Seven Spherez, Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko and Prozak. They each have a song that either saved me or enabled me to express myself. Krizz Kaliko’s song Scars ft Tech N9ne has a strong impact on myself. This is a hard question, but as men there is still a stigma about it. For myself it’s not easy to turn to family and friends and say ‘I’m not feeling okay today’. Hence why I took the name Chuckles ‘I’m crackin’ some smiles but ain’t a damn thing funny’. I know I have the support there and they all care about what happens, but I don’t want them to worry about me. My music is a way for me to escape, I slip deep into my writings until the cloud lifts” he added.

“I think the best way to reach out to men who are still stuck with reaching out for help is through music, giving them an outlet they initially didn’t have before, a voice they can relate to and eventually open up to someone before it takes over them. Social media is a great tool when used right, by setting up a group page that allows people to share music and that way they can explore the music that affects others to get them through the day. Another way is to remind those who post the comments during mental health week or during the month of November that it’s not just for likes, that being there for someone all year round, supporting them into getting help and remind them there’s nothing wrong with getting help’’. 

Chuckles music is something special. When you listen to his music you can tell he is a passionate, caring and hard-working person. In his song Listen to me, he speaks the truth, he speaks how the innocent and vulnerable people in society are being hurt, he speaks what some of us are afraid to say.

 

 

 

I also spoke to James Byrne who is a good friend but also someone who runs LGBTQ+ community meditation and mindfulness meetups in the heart of Dublin city in the Outhouse community resource center (Address – 105 Capel Street). It is a low-cost service to attend where you can develop and improve your overall mental and spiritual health. They run regularly throughout the year and are an informal relaxed meetup for those looking to get involved in learning to explore their inner self in a caring and safe place. This isn’t the only thing James does, he also runs multiple residential retreats and workshops to help you with all the worries of life. 

If you would like to get involved in the meditation and wellbeing programs James organizes, please contact him at 0831759337.

‘’It is crucial to my work as a psychotherapist that mental health is at the very core of my profession. As a therapist my job is to enable my clients to understand their feelings, this can be looking at what makes them feel happy, anxious, depressed and a whole range of other emotions. Through understanding their emotional selves a little better, it can equip [people] to cope in tough situations in life in a more adaptive way. Physical health and mental health are closely related and are something that I would regularly check in with clients especially around diet, exercise and sleep. I encourage clients if they can [spend time] in nature as much as possible.

Today there is a lot of shame surrounding mental health issues we might be experiencing so I think we need to combat the stigmatization. A lot of men I have worked with as a therapist and in my previous career found the biggest obstacle was reaching out and allowing someone into their world. We still have a societal idea that ‘boys don’t cry’. Thankfully this is changing but too slowly. Younger men are starting to become that little bit more open to talking about feelings and reaching out if they have problems, this is fantastic, but we need to support the men of all ages. Provisional figures show there were 352 suicides last year – 282 male and 70 female – or 7.2 per 100,000 of population, according to the 2018 annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention. This is our lowest suicide numbers in 20 years! Men continue to account for 80 per cent of all suicides – in line with global trends – and the 45 to 54-year-old age group are at the highest risk. While suicide prevention is important, and we need to continue to reach out to those who are at risk. We need to look towards the contributing factors, the stresses, the depression, the anxiety, addiction… These are less talked about in the media. The simple answer is to start talking, talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to a counsellor.’’

James does so much for other people but doesn’t do it for fame or fortune. He does it because he cares for others. He once said to me “that no one has an easy life, we all have troubles and that if you reach out for help someone will answer”. 

 

 

James and Chuckles each speak about their own different stories but I noticed that they share the same experience of being silenced, pushed away. Both of them felt it wasn’t normal to speak up about their mental health because they’re both men. They felt it was wrong. That’s what men feel is appropriate growing up because that is what society and people told them.

 

 

Photos by Chuckle and James

 

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Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College, aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.” Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) launched their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

 

For most people, November is an average month. But for people like me and many others, it’s a month to reflect and take account of our spiritual, mental and physical health.

Movember takes place every year during the month of, you guessed it, November. It is a month-long campaign to raise funds for health issues that affect men. People do events and fundraisers to help raise money for research and awareness for mental health problems such as suicide and depression and as well for testicular and prostate cancer research. 

The movement began in Australia in 2003 when two friends, Travis and Luke, decided to try and bring the moustache back into fashion. Travis and Luke were inspired by a friend’s mother who had raised money for her breast cancer treatment and decided to create the campaign to focus on men’s mental and physical health. Fast forward 16 years and the campaign has grown into a global movement with over 5 million people spreading awareness and growing a moustache to raise funds for essential research.

It is now a charity that is tackling the issue of men’s health on a global scale. We live in a world where men, on average, are living six years less than women because of medical issues that are largely preventable. In the next 15 years, unchecked prostate cancer rates will double, and already testicular cancer rates have doubled over the last 50 years. One man dies by suicide ever 60 seconds and men account for ¾ of suicides in Ireland.

As a young person today I don’t think a lot about my mortality, but in  November of 2018 I found a lump on my testicles. It shook me in my existence and after I lost a good friend of mine earlier this year to suicide, I have been continuously thinking about what it means to be alive.  

I have dealt with mental health problems in my life, as does everyone else, because that’s what happens. It’s normal to have dark days and it’s normal to go to counselling. It’s made me a happier person and If I didn’t have supports such as the people around me and the help of medical professionals I wouldn’t be here today speaking about my mental health.

 

So why am I raising funds for the Movember Foundation? 

Well, their mission to me is about standing up and saying ‘’yeah I’m not okay – I need help’’.  It’s the ability to do this despite a culture of toxic masculinity perpetuated by people saying things like ‘’buck up’’ and ‘’men don’t cry’’. Well, you know what, I cry, and I don’t care. I shouldn’t have to live in a culture where I see everyone I know hurting.  As an activist and social worker I have a duty to people of all ages to protect their best interest but to also make sure that they are empowered to make their own decisions. It’s important to break the barriers of the ‘’strong man culture’’ we experience in our personal lives and to start talking about mental health stigma.

As part of this series, I have reached out to people who have different stories to tell about their mental health and how it has shaped everything they do now in the present.

We all live in a society where, for too long, people have suffered in silence, where there is a national shortage of mental health professionals and facilities. Mental health doesn’t discriminate, no matter if you come from a rich or poor family, if you are or are not straight. 

At this time the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and friends, is just talk because there’s no issue too small and no problem too big that can’t be helped if you just talk, because a problem shared is a problem halved. 

Here is a link  to my fundraiser for the Movember foundation, by the end of November I wish to have raised 1000 euro for the foundation. 

So, for all the reasons I have mentioned above please if you could donate what you can afford, it would be greatly appreciated.  The price of a coffee or a pint can go towards helping to stop men dying young.

Thank you.

 

 

Photo by Shannon Takhashi

 

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Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College, aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.” Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) launched their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College,  aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.”  Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News

Over 40 speakers, ranging from activists to corporates and researchers, spoke at events in six locations across Trinity’s iconic campus for the 4th edition of the annual Summit.

The ambitious purpose of the event clearly translated to the wide range of complex topics the expert panels discussed, ranging from homelessness, sports, social enterprise, health and more. 

Due to the scale and timing of the event, it was impossible to attend every talk. Instead, event-goers limited their attendance and participation to specific talks of personal interest. Attendees milled around the Trinity campus, interacting with student volunteers who led the way to different venues. Although it was heartening to see the number of student volunteers, there did not seem to be many students attendees. Perhaps, like me, they had to find a way to fit the Summit talks into their already busy college course schedules. 

I followed the directions of a student volunteer up a narrow staircase to the Diversity & Equality in the Workplace session, hosted by Moira Hogan, head of marketing at Business in the Community Ireland. In a bit of unintentional irony, the location of this event was a reminder of the practical challenges involved in accommodating diversity, as an audience member pointed out the lack of accessibility to the venue. Although the panel and the entire Good Summit meant to promote diversity, it was not accessible to those who may have physical disabilities or difficulties walking – thereby physically excluding them from participating. 

Ms. Hogan and her organisation aim to “make all companies in Ireland responsible and sustainable,” which includes promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion. The business workforce of Ireland today does not accurately reflect the diversity of the nation’s population. By helping companies develop and update their policies to promote diversity and equality while also sponsoring programs aimed to help people enter the workforce, Business in the Community Ireland aims to close this gap. 

Ms. Hogan and her colleagues answered questions about the current barriers and obstacles to diversity in the workplace, as viewed from the perspective of job-seekers. Many of their clients are refugees and immigrants to Ireland who face challenges finding employment and integrating into society. 

A large proportion of the barriers to diversity in the workplace lies in the strict requirements set by many employers. Irish employers expect Irish qualifications, for example the leaving certificate, an Irish college degree, or a certain score on an aptitude test. As the panel pointed out, these expectations are culturally biased and potentially exclusive. Foreign nationals are less likely to have leaving cert qualifications and are very unlikely to score highly on a subjective aptitude test. As a result of this restrictive qualification mentality, employers tend to undervalue work experience or qualifications obtained in other countries, effectively treating workers as though anything they have done outside Ireland has no value. 

Other challenges can be attributed to the less quantifiable aspects of the employment process. What one panelist referred to as “the Irish way of doing things” can be very challenging to grasp for those coming from the outside. Irish culture, like any other, has its own communication style. Although the prefered style here includes eye contact and small talk, there are cultures where avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect, and others where speaking directly is considered more polite. There is a tendency in Ireland to see what is culturally different as less than ideal or simply incorrect. As a result, instead of embracing diversity this hiring philosophy excludes those who do not fit the mould. 

In practice, many of these same barriers serve to exclude Irish nationals as well. Aspects of physical appearance such as skin color, religious attire, and even hairstyle, can also be points of discrimination. As evidenced by the stories of some clients of Business in the Community Ireland, something as simple as having a Muslim name can be a barrier. Racism and religious discrimination and unconscious bias are some of the largest barriers to diversity and equality in the Irish workplace. 

The business sector has the potential to be a huge instrument of positive change in society. Business in the Community Ireland works with companies to alter their requirements and reframe their mindset in order to promote diversity and innovation. The benefits of diversifying the Irish workforce are not merely social. As stated by Ms. Hogan, businesses with higher levels of diversity are 80% more productive, and innovation is promoted substantially by diversity. 

In keeping with the Good Summit values, the panel speakers encouraged audience members themselves to do their part to promote diversity and equality in Ireland. Hogan and her colleagues implored summit-goers to “take greater responsibility about racism in Ireland” while reminding people that the personal impact of compassion and collaboration can make a substantial difference in the community.

 

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Ireland is making slow progress

Last month, the Good Summit Ireland, hosted in Trinity College, aimed to create “a space for dialogue that motivates those who feel disengaged and disenchanted with how the world works, offering a platform for solidarity, with new ideas and empowerment.” Editor Rose attended a talk on the topic of diversity in the workplace and reports for STAND News.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) launched their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health.

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

Student mental health: Recharge and remain well

University is a brilliant time for students to learn new things, socialise and become more independent. But it doesn’t come without its set of struggles. These struggles can include anything from rising prices of rent, exam stress, homesickness and much more. The Union of Students of Ireland (USI) visited colleges and universities such as Maynooth University, National University of Ireland Galway and Technological University Dublin Blanchardstown from Monday the 14th of October to launch their Re:Charge campaign, aiming to promote student mental health and get students thinking about ways that they can mind their mental health. The annual campaign was funded by the HSE and its focus was healthy eating, physical activity and talking to someone when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Students had the opportunity to visit the Re:Charge stand at their university and chat to members of the USI and their university’s welfare crew. The USI brought a big sheet of paper to put at the stand where students could write down what they do to recharge. Students were given the opportunity to read the responses of others and to learn coping mechanisms and strategies. It was a good way for students to gather more ideas on how to mind themselves in times of stress and on a day to day basis. Examples of student responses included: reading, exercising, having a cup of tea, hanging out with friends and painting. 

Available at the Re:Charge stand were additional resources to help students manage stress. Students could help themselves to fruit to kickstart their healthy eating. There was also a raffle for students to enter free of charge to win a USI Re:Charge water bottle or a USI Re:Charge notebook. These prizes aimed to help students with their mental wellbeing. The USI suggested that students use the notebook to journal about their day and their thought processes. The water bottle was intended to remind them to stay hydrated throughout their busy days to keep well and energetic. 

The Re:Charge campaign reminded students of the supports that are available to them both within their universities and beyond. Students learned about university medical and counselling support, as well as sports clubs to keep active during their studies. Students were made aware of Niteline and Samaritans and were given leaflets, pens and badges from these organisations. Members of Samaritans came to some of the universities to meet students face to face and explain the work they do. Niteline is a confidential, anonymous and non judgemental helpline run by students for students from 9pm-2:30am every day of the college term. Each volunteer is carefully selected and trained and ready to listen to students who want to talk about their mental health. The Samaritans is a 24/7 helpline to try to decrease the amount of isolation and disconnection people feel by being a source of support and a non judgemental listening ear for everybody.

Lorna Fitzpatrick, the President of the USI stated: “We are delighted to launch our Re:Charge roadshow for the second year running. Mental health is an issue close to every student’s heart and it is vitally important that students are made aware of the services available to them when they are not feeling their best.” She highlighted the importance of reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. The USI National Report on Student Mental Health in Third Level Education has shown that students have been struggling with their mental health. According to the report, 38.4% of students have experienced anxiety, 29.9% have experienced depression and 17.3% have experienced stress.  

Mental health is real and important. It exists everywhere and is something that everyone has. Universities and the USI are doing their best to help students manage their mental health at university. The Re:Charge campaign is important because it teaches students ways to deal with feelings of overwhelm and how to look after themselves while at university. It also gives students a chance to learn from each other and share ideas. It is high time we stepped up to accept the challenge to support our fellow students. Support can consist of listening non judgmentally and offering a helping hand to someone who is struggling with something even if it seems really small to you. The Re:Charge campaign shows students that they are not alone and have people and supports to turn to when they are feeling overwhelmed.

 

If you feel your mental health is impacted, don’t hesitate to reach out to the organisations mentioned above! Find resources and information on the Re:Charge campaign here.

 

Photo by the USI on Twitter.

 

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