Monday 12th June, Places of Sanctuary Ireland visited Athlone IT. It is a midland college with global reputation and has attracted international students from over 60 countries, including Mid East and East Asia.
Staff members from AIT, members of local refugee and asylum seeker support group New Horizon presented in a meeting how they have reached out to asylum seekers in local Direct Provision Centre and welcomed them into AIT, including access to recreational facilities, foodcloud for DP residents, Access course and English class participation for residents, legal and other support programmes and many more.
AIT has recognised that it is the primary higher education institute in the midlands, and feels the need to furthering its mandate to serve the educational needs of the region, and promote socio-economic engagement in the region.
The Institute’s Access Office established a Committee for the Integration of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in September, 2016, chaired (and championed) by Ms. Theresa Ryan, Access Officer. They wish to reach out to not only the Direct Provision Centres in the region, but also refugees coming to in the region including who are in Ballaghaderreen and Mulligar under EU Relocation programme.
In order to reach out to an wi, AIT hopes to launch free online accredited modules that would facilitate access to courses in the Institute for those not currently eligible. This would:
- facilitate enrolment of asylum seekers and refugees
- enhance the quality of lives and prospects of asylum seekers and refugees
- enrich the AIT community by including asylum seekers and refugees
PoSI is deeply impressed by the staff members' commitment to welcome and include refugees and asylum seekers, and feel strongly AIT is on its way to become a College of Sanctuary.
Residents of Lissywollen DP centre including who's already taken courses through the Access programme and Westmeath Community Development also attended the meeting.