On 12th March 2020 the Irish government announced a shutdown of many social services in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has created serious difficulties for both parents and children living in direct provision.

Nationally 5,686 refugees and asylum seekers, including 1,739 children, are living in 39 direct provision centres. About 1,585 people, including 285 children, are also staying in emergency accommodation.

The basic living conditions in DP sites means that people find it very difficult to maintain social distancing protocols. An outbreak in a DP site would spread very quickly.

Restrictions on visiting direct provision sites also mean that all person-to-person support group activities must cease. 

These restrictions are very necessary but present a lot of problems to already isolated residents in the DP sites. 

These include:

  • Isolation
  • Problems accessing reliable information
  • Parent unfamiliarity with education system
  • Parent unable to help children due to unfamiliarity with subject material
  • Child unable to access online educational material provided by school
  • Cost of mobile phone data
  • Poor or no wifi in DP sites

This document introduces a new website that attempts to resolve some of these issues.

A new website dpsupportlive.com has been set up to address these issues. 

It is designed to:

  • Provide links to reliable sources of information
  • Provide a platform to support online meetings for support groups and residents
  • Allow classes to be restarted online
  • Provide support for parents with children unable to attend schoo

Virtual meetings are set up on the zoom platform shown. The meetings are easily created and can be run at any time. 

People with the web link can access the meeting using a laptop or mobile phone. They can be accessed through a web browser or the Zoom app. 

The meetings provide audio and video communications. In addition screen shares can be done to make online presentations. 

Meetings can be easily arranged around a variety of topics. They can be instant, scheduled and/or recurring as necessary. 

Groups can set up their own meetings as necessary. 

Meeting examples

  • Mrs. Doyle’s virtual tea rooms
    • Stories
    • Songs
    • Poems
    • Virtual choir
  • Need a hand with the homework?
    • Primary school chat
    • Secondary school chat
    • Online learning resources for young people
  • Health and Safety
    • Latest health information
    • Keeping healthy 
    • Online physical exercise!
  • Don’t just stand there, learn something! 
    • Book clubs
    • Online sewing and knitting clubs
    • Video reviews
    • Online courses
  • Longing for the sound of home?
    • Arabic language meeting
    • French language meeting
    • Urdu language meeting
    • Russian language meeting
  • Support group business meetings
  • Special interest group meetings

About New Horizon and St. Stephen’s Green Trust

New Horizon is the Athlone Refugee and Asylum Seeker support group. It consists of approximately 25 volunteers and provides support to almost 300 residents of direct provision sites in Athlone and Temple, Horseleap, Moate. 

Funding for this project is being provided by the St. Stephen’s Green Trust.