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

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.ie.

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