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We're here, Hear us now - Issues and Recommendations

NYCI developed a poster naming a number of issues that young people face on a daily basis in Ireland.  It asks if young people in communities throughout Ireland are experiencing some of these issues. It invites youth leaders to discuss this with their groups and to come to this website to learn more.

Please scroll down to the issue that interests you to learn more about it. Each of the issues is explained further and the resources you can use to explore the topic are suggested.

The issues arose during a national consultation with young people on June 28th that NYCI hosted. The topic of the consultation was integration and inclusion in Ireland. The event brought together 70 young people and youth workers to identify the issues. The young people explained how the issues were affecting them and they discussed ways to make things better. Their recommendations focussed on the changes needed at EU and national level. Their recommendations were sent to the EU Youth Conference in Cyprus. The discussions were part of the EU wide Structured Dialogue process that encourages youth participation and involvement in policy decisions that affect them. (Scroll down to the end of this page to learn more about Structured Dialogue).

During the discussion the young people also suggested solutions that could be applied at a community level through youth groups. These are presented here under their relevant issue. You may like to use them to start discussions on developing solutions for your own community.

While the discussions on the day focussed on migrant young people in particular, it also included other minority groups. The people who attended the consultation came from a broad range of backgrounds many of whom were not migrants.

You may also like to share what your youth group has to say – if so, please email Anne at anne@nyci.ie or phone 01 478 4122 or leave a comment below for others to learn from your discussions

Issue:  Tackle isolation and exclusion of young people from minority backgrounds

Explanation: This was considered to be the most important issue overall. Young people spoke about what it is like to be ‘different’ in Ireland. They often feel that people in Ireland focus on their difference and make them feel like they don’t really belong. Or they gloss over their differences and expect them to be the same when they don’t feel they can be. They need instead to feel that their differences are accepted and valued – that diversity, and finding ways to include everyone’s needs, is the norm.

Sometimes people feel excluded because they cannot afford to take part in some activities or that they don’t know the routes to becoming involved. Opportunities aren’t presented to them and they don’t know where to go to find out about things. There are a lot of informal networks that connect Irish people together that some young people aren’t part of and aren’t invited into.

These experiences were described by migrant young people, LGBT young people, people who left school early and people with a disability. Some young people experience discrimination and other forms of exclusion daily. Travellers, amongst others, often describe such experiences and how they led to exclusion and isolation.

To understand more about how migrants experience isolation and exclusion you could look at the video ‘Making Ireland Home’, an MRCI project. NYCI can send you a copy or you can download it from www.youth.ie/nyci/making-ireland-home-young-immigrants-speak-out

Possible Solutions

  • Set up, or join, a committee to support integration. There should be people from diverse backgrounds on the committee
  • Have culture days that promote learning about different  cultures – and educate people about different cultures through youth work activities
  • Tackle stereotyping and stress that not everybody is the same
  • Make it easier to get into schools and youth groups – not based on restricted waiting lists that give preference to established families in the area
  • Advocate for fair and equitable treatment for all the young people in the community
  • Provide sports, music and drama  activities and encourage involvement
  • Provide drop-in services
  • Provide team building training to youth workers to promote relationship building

Issue: Racism

Explanation: Racism is an ever present and growing reality for many people from minority ethnic backgrounds, including Travellers. Very few have escaped it and for some it has resulted in serious injury.  

Another aspect of racism is the fear that prevails that a racist incident may occur. This fear can prevent young people or their parents being comfortable about them attending after school activities. For the LGBT community the fear around homophobic bullying can be equally intense and pervasive.

To understand more about how migrants experience racism you could look at the video ‘Making Ireland Home’, an MRCI project. NYCI can send you a copy or you can download it from

www.youth.ie/nyci/making-ireland-home-young-immigrants-speak-out

For more about homophobic bullying go to www.belongto.org and look at their Stand Up campaign work

Possible Solutions

  • Addressing racism should be a central concern to the Gardaí - talk to your local Gardaí about young people’s experiences locally and look together at ways to tackle it. (One youth group ensured a Garda presence on a particular street where attacks had happened when school was over)
  • Adopt a whole organisation approach to racism: have a zero tolerance approach that includes anti-racism education designed to tackle the root causes of prejudice
  • Develop a whole-community response – bring all community stakeholders together to discuss racist issues in the community and develop a strategic approach with joint stakeholder’s support (this approach is proving to be the most effectual in tackling racism and other bullying at community level as its message and approach is consistent across the community)
  • Look at local media inputs and encourage responsible journalism and journalism that promotes diversity
  • Run an anti-racism project – develop an anti-racist mural, run an anti-racist competition, etc
  • Use a restorative justice option for addressing racism – offenders need support too

Issue: Equal access to 3rd level education for non-EEA migrants who have done the majority of their 2nd level education in Ireland

Explanation: A significant number of young people from migrant backgrounds (100’s each year) who are long term resident in Ireland and have completed all or most of their 2nd level education in Ireland are asked to pay up to 3 times what their peers pay to attend 3rd level education (international fees). And they are not entitled to apply for education grants.  This results in severe hardship for the families or more often they have to refuse access to 3rd level education to their children because they cannot pay the costs involved.

The cause of this issue is the visa regulation that says that on reaching 16 a young person must apply for a visa in their own right. With such a short window of time it is not possible for them to qualify for citizenship before they are due to enter 3rd level. Many career guidance counsellors are unaware of this and often the families do not know about it until it happens. Many families living in Ireland have not become Irish citizens. 

There is also a group of Irish born children who are denied equal access to 3rd level education. These are children who have status based on the IBC (Irish Born Child) scheme. In 2005 foreign national parents, whose children were born in Ireland prior to January 2005, were granted long term residency. There is a clause in the scheme that gives the children a right to education on the basis of all other Irish children up until but not including 3rd level. Despite being born and spending all their lives in Ireland they too are asked to pay international fees and they cannot access grants.

Possible Solutions

  • Support young people who are affected or who might be affected in the future by these visa restrictions – ensure that they are aware of the visa restrictions
  • Link them in to the national campaign run by the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI). This campaign is calling for an adaptation of the grants system to allow those who have attended 2nd level in Ireland for a minimum of 3 years to be able to apply for support www.facebook.com/MigrantEducationAccess
  • Help young people to build up a credit system whereby they can appeal to the colleges that offer them places to treat them as EU citizens (thereby getting somewhat reduced fees)
  • Advocate as appropriate for a change in legislation

Issue: The media need to support inclusion through responsible reporting

Explanation: Some media publications and radio programmes have been very supportive of diversity. Television tends to support diversity. There are migrant led publications and migrant led radio programmes that also play a role in supporting responsible reporting.

Nevertheless, print media continues to be a place where negative stereotyping and labelling is allowed to develop and perpetuate. At times it is seen as inciting hatred and complaints are common. Talk shows on radio also give voice to abusive, inaccurate and prejudiced attitudes from the public.

It is very easy for a news story to be portrayed in a way that will be picked up on by a prejudiced public in a negative way. There is a need to be mindful of how such reporting can have a negative effect on people who aren’t in any way connected to a story but who share and ethnic identity (or who are just from a minority ethnic background). 

Possible Solutions

  • Encourage migrants to tell their own stories and look for opportunities in newspapers, TV, radio, and film to publish/narrate them
  • Use social media to communicate
  • Develop Youth-led media projects such as production of newsletters/ magazines – have a space for migrant or minority issues
  • Where possible encourage participation on youth panels for TV and radio
  • Raise objections if you see irresponsible journalism in local print media or radio. Acknowledge  responsible journalism
  • Use media to try and put people in a young migrants shoes i.e. “role reversal”
  • Encourage young people to get involved in key campaigns,  e.g. using accessories (bracelets), doing development education projects etc
  • Run awareness campaigns about racism that show it happens every day – use real stories from young people
  • Use shock tactics – draw parallels between what’s happening in the media now and historical racist incidents
  • invite celebrities and well known local figures to say publicly how they embrace diversity

Look at wider media routes to do positive awareness raising:

  • Use videos (like MPower and Living in dependence) as part of discussions to raise awareness
  • Run awareness campaigns that also tell what to do in cases of racism or homophobic bullying against young people
  • Youth orgs could put on a play about an aspect of exclusion based on real youth migrant stories
  • Report on positive youth events
  • Youth orgs could run a  flash mob somewhere public and record it and publicize it through YouTube
  • NB Some people don’t like social media because so much abuse is present
  • Recommend to Facebook to be more strict about taking down racist pages and stories

Issue: Accept diversity and celebrate what it has to offer

Explanation: The young people said that it was very important to them that diversity is seen as a positive thing and not something that asks for people’s ‘tolerance’.

They expressed their hopes and dreams and wanted very much to ‘make a difference’.

There are a number of articles that demonstrate that diversity is good for business. Doctors, and especially geneticists, say that diversity is good for the long term health of the nation.

The youth and community sector need to show that diversity is good for communities too.

Possible Solutions

  • Run intercultural education projects or activities – dispel myths
  • Ensure that diversity is named in your mission statements and policies
  • Find ways to bring people together –share common interests, find common values, run English language classes
  • Celebrate holidays of different ethnic groups – and have community festivals that promotes diversity
  • Encourage your local Council to support inclusion
  • Encourage migrants to get involved in politics
  • Support acceptance of people for who they are
  • Encourage diversity in activities (play music, sports and films from different cultures)
  • Run youth exchanges and get involved with youth clubs from other countries and neighbouring clubs that are diverse

Issue: Target young people who are not in education or employment

Explanation: The young people at the conference explained that it is really important to target and support those young people who are even harder to reach, and who are at greater risk due to their struggle with education and/or employment.

The reasons why migrants may end up out of education or employment are many. The young person may have missed out in early education in their country of origin which will leave them struggling with literacy issues. Some may have suffered trauma which can prevent affective learning due to persistent worries or thoughts. Some will struggle due to English language difficulties. The fact of moving (or dispersal) can be very disruptive on education – the same courses may not be available, new friends have to be made etc. Those in the asylum process are not allowed to enter employment.

Other minority groups may have left school due to bullying, including homo-phobic bullying.

Young people out of education or employment cannot be reached as easily as those who come together to a central venue to attend schools, colleges, etc.

Possible Solutions

  • Value and highlight non-academic skills
  • Focus on developing  life skills
  • Offer motivation and support to young people to get through this challenge
  • Link young people into accessible education and employment programmes such as Youth reach, Internships and volunteering opportunities
  • Link people to a job market that does not need formal qualifications
  • Provide supported space for study

 Issue: We need political leadership, a strong vocal and policy response on inclusion

Explanation: People listen to leaders, and role models are important. There has been a tendency in Irish politics for politicians to play to public sentiments. For this reason politicians and leaders are sometimes reluctant to take a strong stance supporting migration and migrant rights for fear of losing votes from those that do not support diversity. A few politicians have made remarks that have been racist in tone or sentiment. Given their position of power these comments serve to perpetuate and even incite negative attitudes by the public. What is publicly said sets out permissions for what can be thought and repeated. This is how negativity increases or prevails.

It becomes therefore the responsibility of our leaders to be very aware of their language, their sentiments and their beliefs. It is also important that negativity is balanced by positive statements. For this reason it is important not to just stay silent or neutral but to be an advocate for diversity, equality and for human rights.  Just as President Higgins demonstrated during his election campaign.

Irish politics is not diverse – representation of women is very low, and ethnic diversity is rare. This needs to change from the bottom up, from membership in political parties, representation in local politics up to national politics.

Possible Solutions

  • A percentage of political party members should come from diverse backgrounds – encourage involvement in political processes, in voting, membership of political parties, taking part in Comhairle na nOg, learning about politics and how it impacts on their life
  • Invite local political representatives to visit your group – take the opportunity to raise awareness of diversity issues
  •  Encourage debate on social issues, and take action on the issues presented
  • Lobby for change in legislation in relation to immigration, gay rights etc
  • hold politicians accountable for what they say and do
  • Change voting age to 16 so young people feel they are listened to

Issue: We want more plain English and youth friendly language

Explanation: Youth friendly language is important to young people. It plays a part in identity and belonging. It can set generations apart – with only those who understand or ‘who get it’, being allowed to cross the divide. It could also set groups of young people apart from others. Therefore it should be respected but not allowed to divide people.

More crucial is the need to use plain English – this will help those whose first language isn’t English as well as those that may have learning difficulties. It also makes it easier and clearer for everyone. It doesn’t mean dumming down English and the wealth the language offers. It means saying things in a more straightforward way.

For more information go to NALA (National Adult Literacy Agency) www.nala.ie/what-we-do/remove-barriers/plain-english-service

Possible Solutions

  • Use images more  – it’s easier to remember and its more universal
  • Encourage young people to write youth friendly articles for other young people to read
  • Use slang  words and phrases to get across a message (provide a translation for those that don’t know the words)
  • Teach through actions rather than just words
  • Translate key notices and documents into core languages used in your community
  • Use technology based learning – as its more accessible for young people
  • Use humour
  • Use less jargon and complicated words and use more everyday words
  • Use body language – be entertaining so you don’t lose the young people
  • Use story telling rather than reading a bulk of notes

Issue: Produce immigration legislation that gives us clarity

Explanation:The Irish Government has been developing a new immigration bill since 2005. The need for new legislation is recognised by all. A number of NGO’s have made submissions over the years. With changes in Government it has never been passed and it is now on its 3rd version. There is no date for when it is due to come before the Dáil again.

There are 2 key issues that the legislation will address – the asylum process and visa regulations. The EU is working toward a joint process for determining refugee applications. This will mean a reduction from the current 3 phase process in Ireland to a 2 stage process. Currently Ireland is the least likely EU country to grant refugee status with only 1% of applications being granted status per annum. This leaves a significant number of asylum seekers in a drawn out process of up to 7 years, living mostly in direct provision centres, with the fear of deportation hanging over them. These centres have been heavily criticised by NGO’s, especially for the affect they have on young people residing in them.

More clarity is needed regarding visa regulations. In some instances, simplification is necessary such as similar rulings across different visa types. Migrants need to have clear rules and guidelines that they can work within. The visa regulations need to take account of Ireland’s changing employment patterns together with the rights of migrants who should be entitled to enjoy family life, to set up homes and plan for the future.

Go to www.ria.gov.ie/ (Reception and Integration Agency) to see what direct provision accommodation centres are located close to you. See Living in Dependence, a video produced by young asylum seekers about the process www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MEg-iH-C-A

Possible Solutions

  • Advocate to the government to shorten  the asylum process (maximum 12 months)
  • Advocate for changes to the direct provision system to make it more humane.
  • Recognise overseas education, skills and qualifications
  • Do what you can to support people affected by immigration legislation in your community.
  • Involve them in youth work to connect them to the community.

Issue: We need more English language provision

Explanation: In recent years English language support has been heavily cut in schools. Schools and teachers have expressed deep concern that this will result in young migrants failing to achieve their potential.

A significant number of young migrants and their parents do not have good English language skills. This leaves them at a huge disadvantage and at risk of isolation and marginalisation.

Possible Solutions

  • Consider bringing in a volunteer with TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other  Languages) qualifications to support young migrants in your organisation
  • Where possible link parents into English language supports such as Failte Isteach projects or with volunteers who will work with them
  • Use more visuals to communicate – don’t rely on literacy but do supplement spoken instructions with text or written messages, especially meeting times and details
  • Give space and time out for migrants to use their native languages – speaking in a second language constantly can be tiring. It is also helpful if someone can explain difficult concepts through a native language to ensure understanding
  • Support young migrants with homework clubs

Issue: Tackle stereotyping and labelling

Explanation:The Equality Authority has stated that challenging stereotyping is crucial to tackling inequalities. The inherent dignity of each individual can be damaged by stereotyping. This in turn can limit individual development and reduce people’s options in life. It especially affects people included in the 9 grounds.

This is because stereotyping reduces a person or group to a prescribed and limited description. It doesn’t allow for alternative or broader descriptions. It often stresses negative traits or it turns certain traits into negative interpretations.

For example, stereotypical views of women have led directly to less women being in managerial or political positions; stereotypical views of Travellers has led to difficulties in getting employment, given access to public spaces etc.

See ‘Spotlight on Stereotyping‘for activities that you can run. Download from www.equality.ie/Files/Spotlight-on-Stereotyping.pdf or request a hard copy from anne@nyci.ie

Possible Solutions

  • Review your range of activities to ensure there are  regular opportunities to  learn about different groups/cultures/nationalities
  • Run a programme of activities that looks specifically at stereotyping (see Spotlight on Stereotyping)
  • Run an intercultural/inclusion program – for example, have movie club nights showing foreign films or films that cover diverse topics and have discussion space afterwards
  • Create shared space where everyone has a stake
  • Do myth busting activities – develop images/posters that dispel myths and stereotypes

Issue: Tackle cultural clashes and misunderstandings

Explanation: When people from diverse cultures spend time together there can be clashes due to differing ways of behaving. We all unconsciously absorb a way of looking at the world. The culture we grow up in determines our beliefs, values, and the practices and traditions we are familiar with. We tend to think of our ways as the ‘right’ ways. Even if we change our beliefs over time we will still be connected to certain ways of thinking. From our cultural perspective we can sometimes view other people’s behaviour as rude or ‘wrong’ or just strange. Sometimes, over time, another person’s behaviour can start to annoy us or its unfamiliarity makes us less easy in ourselves and therefore less tolerant. Stress can make this worse.

Whenever we get annoyed, upset or dismayed by the behaviour of someone because of their different cultural norms a cultural clash has taken place. We may not even know that the clash is based on cultural differences. We usually don’t know how we are culturally conditioned as it comes so naturally to us.

One of the ways to tackle this is to try to understand why people do what they do – to put yourself in their shoes, to imagine their life story. Dialogue is important to develop understanding.

When the clashes can’t easily be resolved it can help to find what values you have in common. People may act in very different ways but they may be doing so because they both put a similarly high value on something, for example, on education for their children, or the importance of marriage, or respect for women. All of these values can result in very different approaches but when it is realised what values are shared it makes it easier to discuss the approaches taken in a more open and honest way.

Possible Solutions

  • Identify where misunderstanding and clashes happen:
  • Over food: halal, vegan etc
  • Over dress : hijab for example
  • Over political and religious divisions
  • Intergenerational
  • Perceived misconceptions
  • Do intercultural training and activities
  • Tackle divisions by finding shared values to create understanding

Issue: Address religious divisions such as Islamophobia

Explanation: Religious faith (or none) is deeply connected to a person’s identity. It cannot be separated from a person’s sense of themselves and their place in the world. However, many people from minority belief systems or religion feel that they are excluded because Ireland’s social structures lean so much toward the Catholic majority. Schools and youth clubs are often seen as spaces where religious diversity (including no religion) is not valued as much as it could be.

There are many situations when people feel that their religious background or belief system is being attacked or negatively portrayed. Often this is based on negative and/or false assumptions. Muslims often experience this negativity in particular.  Islamophobia is a fear of, or negative attitude toward, the Islamic faith and its followers.

Possible Solutions

  • Discuss world religions and non-religious beliefs in your activities and dispel myths based on religion
  • Hold events that bring people of different belief systems together  
  • Invite people of different belief systems to visit your group. Seek out individuals rather than the church leaders. Ensure openness and respect and discuss a wide range of topics with them not just religion

Three young people from Ireland will attend the EU Youth Conference in Cyprus to represent the views of the young people who attended the consultation day on the 28th June. Pictures from the consultation are included below.

 

Tell us what you think about inclusion in Ireland.

  • Continue the conversation at your youth group and among your friends and post your thoughts on our Comment Page.

Europe Consulting with Young People

This consultation “We’re Here, Hear Us Now” was part of a Europe Wide Consultation with Young People on issues that affect them.  The recommendations that young people and youth leaders made at this consultation will join the recommendations from consultations in all the European member states and set the agenda for a EU Youth Conference in Cyprus in September, which will be attended by policy makers and young people from all over Europe.   This process is ongoing and is called the Structured Dialogue process – it is a way that European policy makers consult with young people and youth work organisations.  For more details on this process see video below.

Here is a link to a presentation on Structured Dialogue www.eurodesk.eu/edesk/SD/2011/SD%20made%20simple.pdf

Also this link to the European Youth Forum website tells you all you need to know about Structured Dialogue www.youthforum.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=836&Itemid=111&lang=en

  • What is structured dialogue?:

 

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This event is funded under the Youth in Action Programme of the European Union