Niamh Mc Hugh

Unfortunately at present there is no dedicated organization working within my local community to support refugees, however as so many have already mentioned the St. Vincent De Paul does absolutely extraordinary work within the community over many years, including welcoming and supporting refugees in surrounding areas. This year, as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine, has been the first time our locality has had the opportunity to welcome and support refugees fleeing their war-torn country. Our local Tidy Town Committee ended up reaching out and bringing the community together to support and help integrate our new arrivals. Locals have really come together and welcomed each and every one. We have held meet and greet mornings, we have organised volunteers to come to the centre to teach English, run activities for the children to integrate with other children already in the community, gathered donated clothes and toys, teach different workshops and support the refugees in exploring their new community. As a very remote part of the country we have also come together to organise transport or lifts so that the children can attend local schools and after school activities and many of these clubs and businesses have offered free access to their activities and leisure activities. As what I think is a direct result of this, initiatives that have run in the schools for may years such as the Christmas Shoe Box Appeal, Walk In My Shoes and Trocaire box appeal have all seen a huge increase in donations and people taking part in these. I hope that the exposure and insights into the lives of refugees that many people have experienced this year over the past two years will stay with them and continue to increase peoples awareness and willingness to help the plight of others in need.

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