Local Development Companies proven to play a key role in migrant integration – report

From Department of Rural and Community Development 

Published on 23 March 2021

Last updated on 23 March 2021

Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development today (Tuesday, 23rd March) launched a report: The Role of SICAP in Supporting New Communities.

The report explored the role that SICAP plays in addressing the barriers to social inclusion that are experienced by members of new communities in Ireland, as well as how the programme contributes to integration of members of new communities in Ireland.

The report findings indicate that SICAP is strongly aligned with national and international integration frameworks and includes strong examples of good practice specifically contributing to five key factors of integration; employment, education, access to services, social connection and political participation.

Commenting on the findings Minister O’Brien noted that this existing community infrastructure will play a significant role in the successful role out of the plans laid out in the recent White Paper on Ending Direct Provision :

“This report provides important evidence that the State’s main Social Inclusion Programme – SICAP – is working effectively to help new communities to integrate successfully in their local communities and life in Ireland. The report is a testament to the work of the 46 local development companies across the country that are implementing the programme. I know a lot of the work that is done is tailored and is particularly effective as it is at a one-to-one level. It’s literally a direct person to person connection and bond that is helping many migrants navigate the multiple challenges that they are facing. “

“In my view SICAP is one of the most effective Programmes that we have that facilitates migrant integration in Ireland. It reaches into almost every community in Ireland and is based on personal contact between migrants and SICAP workers who are skilled and knowledgeable in terms of getting through the barriers to employment, education, access to services, social connections and an area that I think is particularly important, political participation.”

“Last month Minister O’Gorman and I launched a new approach and indeed a new relationship between the Irish State and people seeking international protection, where the State’s efforts and supports to promote integration formally start from the first day a protection applicant arrives in Ireland. Many Local Development Companies have been doing this work, as the report shows, and now they have an even stronger mandate to do so following the publication of the White Paper on Direct Provision but also the evidence of good work from this report.”

“We know that people from new communities are not a homogenous group and it is crucial that individual nationalities and cultures are taken into account when programmes are being designed. The report is clear in its findings that Local Development Companies recognise this and actively apply a person-centred approach which is responsive to individual needs. I want to acknowledge the work of the Local Development Companies who are responsible for the implantation of SICAP locally and who work closely with the SICAP target groups to ensure that the inclusion measures are fit for purpose and achieve their objectives.”

“The research published here today will be a vital input into ongoing policy formulation and working with my colleagues in my Department and across Government I look forward to implementing the recommendations over the months ahead to help achieve an inclusive society for all.”

Pobal CEO, Ms Anna Shakespeare, said :

“The New Communities report focuses on the experiences of disadvantaged people who are migrants, asylum seekers and refugees supported by the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP). The report is an important piece of work and I very much welcome its launch today. It not only highlights the positive contribution that SICAP is making towards the integration of newcomers in communities across Ireland but also presents us with useful findings which can be used to inform practice. Pobal is committed to working closely with the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), the Local Development Companies (LDCs), Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) and other stakeholders to implement the report’s recommendations over the coming months and to continue to support communities across Ireland to promote social inclusion and work towards the integration of newcomers into Irish society.”

“The Role of SICAP in Supporting New Communities” report is available on Pobal’s website: here.

ENDS

Note to editors:

  • The research was conducted by Pobal’s Monitoring, Analysis and Outcomes Unit on behalf of Department of Rural and Community Development and includes honest and informative feedback from staff of six Local Development Companies (LDCs) about the Role of SICAP (Social Inclusion & Community Activation Programme) in supporting new communities in their area that represents migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP 2018-2022)

SICAP is the Irish Government’s primary social inclusion programme. €190 million allocated over the five year programme through Department of Rural and Community and it is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 – 2020.

SICAP is implemented nationally across 51 Local Development Company lot areas and aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality in Ireland through supporting communities and individuals via community development, engagement and collaboration. This includes both group work and one on one individual supports in the areas of well-being and personal development, education and employment supports.

New Communities is one of SICAP’s primary target groups, which consists of migrants experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, asylum seekers and refugees

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • 5,430 disadvantaged migrants, 1,168 asylum seekers and 851 refugees engage in the programme and make up a high proportion (14%) of SICAP clients.
  • Members of new communities are less likely to live in disadvantaged areas and are more likely to live in a jobless household; be at risk of homelessness and experience transport barriers.
  • Many experience trauma and mental health issues often associated with seeking asylum.
  • Each of the new community groups have different socio-economic characteristics with different levels of education and are more likely to be economically inactive due to legal restrictions in place.
  • Tailored supports are delivered especially to asylum seekers and refugees to help progression to employment and self-employment. However, differences were noted in the types of jobs occupied by the new community groups. Asylum seekers and refugees were more likely to progress into lower paid jobs in the food, drink and tobacco production sector.
  • LDCs use different approaches recognising that they are not homogenous groups and factors like nationality and cultural background play an import role in the process.
  • SICAP referred member to other services for additional supports e.g. Local Employment Services; Education and Training
  • SICAP provided spaces for new communities to meet new people and develop social connections through dance and music providing opportunities for the groups to celebrate their culture and interact with others in the area.

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