Kinsale residents pull together to help Syrian refugees

Kinsale residents pull together to help Syrian refugees
Kinsale harbour with the Dock beach in the background. Picture Denis Minihane

A group of volunteers from Kinsale are banding together to welcome a refugee family arriving from Syria later on this year.

Road to Kinsale is a Community Sponsorship project, which is an alternative resettlement model to Direct Provision.

Road to Kinsale was initiated by a local group who want to "offer a helping hand to those displaced in one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises of our time."

Within the coming months a family that has been Garda vetted and approved by the Irish Government will come to Ireland and will be integrated into the community in Kinsale.

Traditionally, the family would have entered an emergency reception and orientation centre.

Road to Kinsale are fundraising to provide an arrival and settlement plan for the family.

This Sunday, September 1 they will be running a community-based fête. 'So Long, Lughnasa' will start at 2pm in Saile Community Centre in Kinsale. There will be climbing walls, science shows, drumming, disco and cake. 100% of funds raised will go towards financially supporting the family assigned to Kinsale.

Siobhán Howe, one of the volunteers, said that the idea originally started amongst a running group. "It just came up in conversation. We began talking about Syria and Direct Provision. We also ran with Sanctuary Runners before. We wanted to do something meaningful."

"When our own children ask about the refugee crisis, we didn't want to say we sat back and did nothing."

The group then did some research and saw NASC, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, were looking for host towns to resettle refugee families.

"It grew from there. We got training from NASC. We divided ourselves into different subgroups like fundraising and settlement, based on our own expertise."

Siobhán explains this community-based form of integration is preferable because the family have greater options. "Direct Provision is just another holding place, it's not a home."

"They will have a place of their own, they will be able to cook their own meals. For the first time in years, they will be able to be a family and put down roots."

Once Road to Kinsale have raised enough money to support the family for their first few weeks, NASC will contact the volunteers to organise the family's arrival. "We hope it will be before the end of the year," said Siobhán.

The volunteer group, which has 32 members, hope that within two years, the family will become part of Kinsale’s vibrant community and be in employment.

The family will enter the private rental market and will be entitled to work in Ireland. With the support of the Road to Kinsale volunteers, they will be given guidance on how to find a house and employment.

This programme was developed by the Irish Government in cooperation with the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GSRI), the Irish Red Cross, NASC, Irish Refugee Council and the UNHCR.

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