Issues and Facts
An inclusive youth group is where a young person will feel welcome, secure and comfortable and that they can celebrate their identity especially those aspects of their identity that make them different from others such as their culture or ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, gender, health including mental health, education, parental status, involvement in juvenile justice etc.
Intercultural youth work is a way of working with people from culturally diverse backgrounds. It sees cultural diversity as an enriching aspect of society. It also acknowledges the reality of racism and the need to create conditions where social harmony is promoted and supported. An intercultural approach stresses the need for collaboration, open and honest dialogue, active participation, understanding and respect for all.
Equality is not always about treating everyone the same – it is about treating people in such a way that the outcome for each person can be the same. This means putting things in place to support people to achieve similar outcomes. For a person who is blind it may involve having screen readers on your computers and removing obstacles in your building. For someone from a minority background it may involve having affirming messages in your youth space so that young people know that diversity and difference is valued. Messages can be communicated in different ways such as having staff with open and welcoming attitudes, displaying relevant posters and information, celebrating special days such as Traveller and LGBT Pride weeks, or special festivals such as Divali, Eid etc. By not putting supports in place exclusion is usually an inadvertent result.
One way of finding out if you are inclusive is to gather information about your members. If you use a registration form then some of this information can be gathered by adapting your forms. A registration form allows people to describe themselves as they want – whether that is declaring that they have a disability or not, telling you what they consider their ethnic/cultural identity to be, perhaps what religion they are, maybe what languages they speak. Identity questions on registration forms should be optional. those filling them in must understand why you want the information i.e. to make your service better. You can also use forms to see who you are not engaging with.
Registration forms are not the only way to collect this information. Also there are identity questions
An ‘ethnic group’ has been defined as a group that regards itself or is regarded by others as a distinct community by virtue of certain characteristics that will help to distinguish the group from the surrounding community. Ethnicity is considered to be shared characteristics such as culture, language, religion, and traditions, which contribute to a person or group’s identity.
Ethnicity has been described as residing in:
• the belief by members of a social group that they are culturally distinctive and different to outsiders;
• their willingness to find symbolic markers of that difference (food habits, religion, forms of dress, language) and to emphasise their significance; and
• their willingness to organise relationships with outsiders so that a kind of ‘group boundary’ is preserved and reproduced
This shows that ethnicity is not necessarily genetic. It also shows how someone might describe the
Many people wonder if inclusion should be an aspect of all youth groups or if youth organisations should have groups that target particular young people in order to effectively and appropriately meet their needs. For example, groups have been set up to work with asylum seekers, young people with a disability, Travellers, young people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual etc.
Best practice says that both types of groups have a place and the important consideration is to meet
Who is an asylum seeker?
An asylum seeker is a person seeking to be granted protection as a refugee outside their country of origin, and is awaiting the determination of his/her status. If granted this status, the person is recognised as a refugee and is no longer an asylum seeker. In Ireland, the asylum process is a legal system which decides who qualifies as a refugee and is then entitled to remain in Ireland and under its protection. Those judged not to be refugees can be deported back to their home countries. Others may be granted leave to remain or subsidiary protection.
Who is a refugee?
A refugee is someone who has had to leave their country of origin because of “a well-founded fear of persecution because of reasons including their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.Ireland is a signatory to the “1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees”, which obliges us to provide protection to people fleeing their country for the reasons above. At the end of 2006, the population of recognised refugees in Ireland was 8,500. Refugees are entitled to apply for ‘family reunification’ to bring their immediate family members (within certain criteria) to Ireland.
The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum-seeker is someone who claims he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.
What is an asylum seeker entitled to in Ireland?
Asylum seekers generally live in direct provision accommodation centres around the country, meaning they are provided with accommodation and food, but with little privacy or independence. Asylum seekers receive €19.10 per week per adult, and €9.60 per child to cover essential items such as toiletries, clothes, phone calls and local travel. Asylum seekers are not allowed to hold any type of paid employment while in the asylum system. This is in contrast to most other EU Member States. Adult asylum seekers cannot avail of free state third-level education courses (including Post-Leaving Cert courses (PLCs), or FÁS etc). Asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the country while still in the asylum, leave to remain or subsidiary protection process.
The numbers of people applying for asylum in Ireland has been falling since 2002 (when 11,634 people applied for asylum). From 2005 – 2008 there were approximately 4,000 applications per year. By 2010 the total number who applied for asylum was 1,939. Approximately 1% of all asylum seekers in Ireland currently receive refugee status. In 2011 there are approximately 5,500 asylum seekers resident in direct provision centres. The efficiency of the asylum system is key. In Ireland, it can take several years for decisions to be reached. Nearly 2,000 of the 5,500 residents living in direct provision centres have been awaiting a decision for more than 3 years (information from RIA).
What about young asylum seekers?
Children are housed with their parents in direct provision centres. If a child under 18 years arrives in Ireland without parents or guardians, and seeks asylum, he/she is called a ‘Separated Child Seeking Asylum’ (previously called ‘unaccompanied minors’). These children are in the care of the HSE and can attend school until completing the Leaving Certificate. They will usually be placed in foster care homes throughout the country. They are not entitled to free state education beyond secondary school. Once they turn 18, they are housed in Direct Provision Centres with other adult asylum seekers.