Northside Parternship and Speedpak Group have successfully completed a pilot to support new communities of job seekers.
When 250 male Asylum Seekers moved into adapted accommodation in Airways Industrial Estate, it presented as an opportunity to support the integration of International Protection Participants/Asylum Seekers in the locality via Speedpak workforce. As Asylum Seekers receive a weekly payment of €37.50 from the State, they are not allowed to receive additional funding. Therefore, any work undertaken by them would be done on a voluntary unpaid basis.
“As a local development company Northside Partnership has its ‘finger on the pulse’ of a wide range of local economic and social activity in Dublin’s Northside,” according to John P. Murphy, CEO, Speedpak. “When they brought to our attention that some 250 male Asylum Seekers moved into a neighbouring community, we both saw this as a great opportunity to reach out and engage.”
“We both saw this as a great opportunity to reach out and engage”
A pilot programme was co-produced by Northside Partnership and the Speedpak Group, a social enterprise that operates a commercial business. It was co-funded with the support of Northside Partnership SICAP funding with facilities and onsite support provided by Speedpak Group. The aim of the programme was to support the integration of the Asylum Seekers by having them learn and work alongside local people living on Dublin’s Northside. It did this by providing:
“The other key objective, besides improving participants employability, was promoting integration and social inclusion,” continued Murphy. “This was supported by our core staff and actually happened very quickly and naturally in our commercial production environment. We also mixed staff on our Community Employment work experience scheme with our voluntary participants in the group training.”
A joint team from both organisations visited the the adapted accommodation to meet staff and Asylum Seekers to guage their interest in the pilot. This was followed by a number of open days in Speedpak to explain what was on offer. Applicants went through an interview process, afterwhich places were offered on the programme. Speedpak briefed all staff, core and training, before the programme started about why it was offering the programme and to whom.
The programme ran from 31st October 2023 and ended 19th Dec 2023, with 8 participants who all completed the 8-week Programme. This included 2 x half days work experience in Speedpak Contract Services and 1 day of training in the Learning Centre. Participants enjoyed lunch each day with their colleagues the Speedpak canteen. They also received information and access to supports provided by Northside Partnership.
All participants followed normal work practices and were mentored by Speedpak Core Staff. They received PPE clothing including Hi-Vis jackets, protective shoes, white coats, masks, head wear and gloves. They also received learning and English Language Support including 1 day in the Learning Centre with Tutor provided by Northside Partnership, weekly English Language support sessions and weekly Personal Effectiveness training. A number of Speedpak Community Employment participants also engaged in the programme to best utilise resources and support further integration.
I was reminded that each person has a mother/father and family that they have had to leave behind, often in the most horrific circumstances, and how tragic it must be for them and their parents that they have to flee their country to seek refuge elsewhere.
“We were delighted to partner with SpeedPak in developing this really important and inspiring initiative to support members of new communities,” commented Paul Rogers, CEO, Northside Partnership. “Meeting the participants and hearing their stories was deeply moving and we are honoured to be able to offer this programme and help support their journey and inclusion in Irish society. I was reminded that each person has a mother/father and family that they have had to leave behind, often in the most horrific circumstances, and how tragic it must be for them and their parents that they have to flee their country to seek refuge elsewhere.”
At a recent graduation ceremony, participants were awarded seven Manual Handling and four Safe Pass certificates. Participants who could not complete the Safe Pass Certification due to language difficulties will have the opportunity to engage in English classes through Northside Partnership, and can apply to do Safe Pass again at a later stage. Two participants volunteered to work in production for 2 additional days in each of the 8 weeks – (19.5 hours per week) with great success. All the participants were keen to engage in learning, they interacted with everybody and were very friendly. Furthermore, the feedback from the volunteers was very positive.
The Pilot Programme and learnings are being jointly evaluated with a view to delivering a further 2 – 3 programmes for up to 20 people in 2024.