Local Development group Empower key to preventing & tackling racism – Minister O’Brien at national report launch

24th March, 2021

Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development has launched report: The Role of SICAP in Supporting New Communities. SICAP is the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, which is overseen by Minister O’Brien and is the government’s main national social inclusion programme. Its implemented by Local Development Companies across the country. Empower is the implementing partner of SICAP in Fingal. 

The report explores 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. 

Speaking on the report launch, Joe O’Brien welcomed its findings and the positive role SICAP has been playing in Fingal;

“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. 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. We can see the benefits of the Programme in the work being funded by it here in Fingal."

I do also want to flag an important role that I feel Empower plays in terms of combatting and preventing racism at a local level. Local Development Companies like Empower are embedded in their communities. They are trusted and well known and the good work that they do in terms of supporting new communities in my view plays an important role in building understanding and appreciation of diversity in the wider community that they are in, both in an indirect way but also in a very direct way too as evidenced by some of the projects I referenced earlier.

Adeline O’Brien, CEO of Empower Local Development Company, said;

“Fingal is the youngest and most diverse county in Ireland. With more than 100 nationalities nestled together, Empower’s work in Fingal through SICAP reflects and responds to the richness of the culture in our county.  Significant population growth occurred since 1991 with Non-Irish nationals now accounting for 18.3% of all residents in Fingal.  Empower, the local development company in Fingal, delivers SICAP with an equally diverse team of community workers on the ground across the county.  Adeline O’ Brien, CEO, Empower, outlines “The need to ensure meaningful integration across our communities is ever present, we value the richness of the many cultures in Fingal and the opportunities our diversity brings.

“We are always vigilant to the challenges of those who experience isolation, so we enable people to claim their rights and raise their expectations so that economic security and social inclusion becomes a lived experience for all in Fingal. SICAP enabled Empower to support almost 1000 individuals across Fingal in 2020.  36% of the people we serve are members of new communities compared to the national average of 14%.  This shows that our multicultural team deliver the right supports at the right time to those most in need.  Empowers services range from English Language classes, addressing digital poverty, food & fuel poverty, job seeking skills and welfare rights clinics.  We work with employers through our Diversity & Inclusion programme to ensure a shared understanding of inclusion and develop pathways to employment opportunities so the work force in Fingal benefits from and reflects our diverse population.”

Notes for the editor:

  • The research was conducted by Pobal’s Monitoring, Analysis and Outcomes Unit on behalf of Department of Rural and Community Development and includes honest and informative feedback from staff of six Local Development Companies (LDCs) about the Role of SICAP (Social Inclusion & Community Activation Programme) in supporting new communities in their area that represents migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
  • Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP 2018-2022)
    • SICAP is the Irish Government’s primary social inclusion programme. €190 million allocated over the five year programme through Department of Rural and Community and it is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 – 2020.
    • SICAP is implemented nationally across 51 Local Development Company lot areas and aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality in Ireland through supporting communities and individuals via community development, engagement and collaboration. This includes both group work and one on one individual supports in the areas of well-being and personal development, education and employment supports.
    • New Communities is one of SICAP’s primary target groups, which consists of migrants experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, asylum seekers and refugees
    • Some of the key findings in the report include:
    • 5,430 disadvantaged migrants, 1,168 asylum seekers and 851 refugees engage in the programme and make up a high proportion (14%) of SICAP clients.
    • Members of new communities are less likely to live in disadvantaged areas and are more likely to live in a jobless household; be at risk of homelessness and experience transport barriers.
    • Many experience trauma and mental health issues often associated with seeking asylum.
    • Each of the new community groups have different socio-economic characteristics with different levels of education and are more likely to be economically inactive due to legal restrictions in place.
    • Tailored supports are delivered especially to asylum seekers and refugees to help progression to employment and self-employment. However, differences were noted in the types of jobs occupied by the new community groups. Asylum seekers and refugees were more likely to progress into lower paid jobs in the food, drink and tobacco production sector.
    • LDCs use different approaches recognising that they are not homogenous groups and factors like nationality and cultural background play an import role in the process.
    • SICAP referred member to other services for additional supports e.g. Local Employment Services; Education and Training
    • SICAP provided spaces for new communities to meet new people and develop social connections through dance and music providing opportunities for the groups to celebrate their culture and interact with others in the area.
  • Empower Local Development CLG was established in 1995, it is a local development company situated in Fingal, with offices located in Clonsilla, Mulhuddart and Balbriggan.

Tags: Racism