WHAT ARE SANCTUARY AMBASSADORS?
Sanctuary Ambassadors are refugees and asylum seekers who build bridges of understanding across Irish society.
Sanctuary Ambassadors join a training programme to help equip them to use their voice and explain their story to decision makers. During the training they find out how Irish society and politics works, they have an opportunity to meet politicians and media personnel and they develop their skills in public speaking, awareness raising and advocacy.
Sanctuary Ambassadors come from different cultures, nationalities, religions and backgrounds, but they form community and work together, united by the aim to give a voice to their peers and build a more united and integrated Ireland.
The initiative began in Dublin in 2016 under the name Sanctuary in Politics. From there it spread to Waterford, Galway, various cities in UK and Wexford. Early achievements included the publication of the Sanctuary in Politics Class Manifesto in 2017.
WHO CAN BE A SANCTUARY AMBASSADOR?
This programme is open to anyone seeking sanctuary in Ireland and willing to undergo the training to train and become a Sanctuary Ambassador. By training and becoming a Sanctuary Ambassador, you will be committed to joining a team of people committed to sharing their story with interested local people.
All refugees, asylum seekers and others seeking sanctuary are encouraged to join this fast-growing network of dedicated and highly motivated asylum seekers and refugees who have already becomes the Sanctuary Ambassadors in different counties. We invite you to contact us at [email protected] if you are interested in applying for a place on one of our upcoming courses, and candidates may be living in any county within the Republic of Ireland. However, the final decision to offer a place in the training or ambassadorship programme will depend on the human and financial resources and capacities to cover the demand.
THE WEXFORD SANCTUARY MANIFESTO 2020
In November 2019 a new course was started in County Wexford, bringing together refugees and asylum seekers from three new emergency Direct provision Centres and refugees from the Syrian resettlement Programme in Wexford. The course was run in partnership with Wexford Local Development. About 30 participants registered, and training included sessions on public speaking, media work and Irish politics. One memorable session involved Brendan Howlin TD giving a master class on the Irish electoral system, including a mock election.
Lockdown meant that the group could no longer meet after February, but meetings continued by zoom and the Wexford Sanctuary Manifesto was produced .
Thanks to the commitment of Brendan Howlin, other Wexford Oireachtas members, and Wexford County Council, the group was able to present the Manifesto in person at Wexford County Council at a socially distanced but very moving event in July, where all Oirecahtas members spoke out their support. A week later the group als presented to all councillors of Gorey District Council. Brendan Howlin and other Oirecahtas members have proved themselves to be true friends of sanctuary and the manifesto has been presented to Minister Heleln McEntee and Minister Roderic O Gorman.
SANCTUARY AMBASSADOR TRAINING
Sanctuary Ambassador Training is led by a small group of facilitators, including people who have previously graduated from Sanctuary Ambassador or Sanctuary in Politics courses, as well as people who have helped to form and facilitate the course in the past. Training will typically involve between 4 and 6 sessions for the group, with other sessions for smaller groups preparing for a specific task. Training is interactive and focusses on building practical and transferable skills in the context of community. Experts on areas such as Irish politics, public speaking, media work and campaigning are brought in from the local county and beyond.
Ambassadors are supported by mentors and encouraged to select an area where they can use their training and skills for some form of awareness raising or connecting in the wider community. Examples include speaking in schools, universities, churches, local councils, business communities, libraries, making radio or TV broadcasts and writing or being interviewed for newpapers.
Because of COVID 19, most training sessions in 2020 have been conducted by zoom, but we are pleased to report that this has not deterred the activity and enthusiasm of the Sanctuary Ambassadors.