The Department of Justice and Equality have recently introduced a pilot Community Sponsorship initiative into the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). The Community Sponsorship Programme broadens the mechanisms by which Ireland can offer safety and protection to recognised refugees who have fled their homes and have no prospect of returning home. Started in Canada in the 1970s, the community sponsorship facilitates members of the public (rather than state actors) to play a key role in the welcome, orientation and integration of refugees into local communities. Community sponsors are required to source suitable accommodation for the refugee family, and, once the family arrive in Ireland will assist them with finding employment, learning the language, enrolling children in schools and accessing state, social and professional networks. The process helps the refugee family to find their feet in a new community through a type of wrap around ‘accelerated integration’. By encouraging active involvement of communities in the re-settlement process through their Community Sponsorship group this model builds awareness of refugee related issues, and brings communities together to promote understanding and intercultural exchange.
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