Photo above – Archbishop Michael Jackson, Canon Horace McKinley and the Revd Abigail Sines with people who participated in the service and IRC staff.
Dublin & Glendalough’s ‘A Place to Call Home’ appeal has drawn to a close with a Service of Thanksgiving in Christ Church Cathedral. Over the last three years, parishes and schools in the United Dioceses have donated €215,158.94 to the appeal which supports the work of the Irish Refugee Council’s (IRC) housing programme.
Funds from the appeal have allowed the IRC to accommodate people leaving direct provision as well as give advice and support to more than 1,000 people who were struggling to find a place to call home. Seventeen properties were donated to the project by a number of religious orders and 81 people have been accommodated through the programme to date. Ninety–four people have been assisted in finding private rented accommodation.
So far the programme has supported 22 people in entering further education and supported 11 people in finding employment. Four babies have been born into homes in the programme and eight families have been reunited in homes belonging to the programme. Funds raised by Dublin & Glendalough have been used to contribute to the salaries of IRC housing staff who provide invaluable support to people who have been granted refugee status and are trying to find a place to live.
The Service of Thanksgiving took place in Christ Church Cathedral yesterday evening (Monday February 10) and was entitled ‘Journey of Lament and Hope’, which Archbishop Michael Jackson said introduced a “ a note of chilling realism”. “Hope is not only the backdrop but also the foreground of lament. We have been journeying together and recognising reality. The journey is not finished and the hope in what you have touched in us and encouraged us to do continues.”
He added that the dioceses had embarked on a journey with the IRC which had enabled people to examine afresh what the word ‘home’ meant to them. “I want us to gather in lament and hope and in commitment and dedication to those who lie at the heart of this new understanding of home that you have given us,” he said.
The Archbishop drew together the two appeals undertaken by the people of Dublin & Glendalough over the last five years. The diocesan link with the Diocese of Jerusalem grew out of the ‘Prepare a Place’ appeal which supported Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. That appeal raised funds for the renovation of the on–call facilities for medical staff and for solar panels to overcome the issues raised by sporadic electricity supply in Gaza.
Canon Horace McKinley then came up with a proposal for mission at home and the ‘A Place to Call Home’ appeal was born. Archbishop Jackson paid tribute to the IRC CEO Nick Henderson and all the staff for the way in which they helped the people of the dioceses learn. He also thanked the Revd Abigail Sines and the members of her committee for their tireless work on the project.
Homayoon shared his story of hope. He came from Waterford, but originally from Afghanistan. He said that when his family joined him in Dublin he wondered where he would find a home for his wife and children. He feared homelessness. But with the help of the Irish Refugee Council the family, which was later joined by Homayoon’s mother, have a home. “Thank you for this appeal. Thank you for your support, your love and compassion and for providing this sanctuary for us,” he said. “God bless those who are involved in giving us our home… I struggle to find the right words to use for giving this great gift of life to me. I hope this kind of project can continue. I suffered a lot. Even viewing houses was difficult and without the help of the Irish Refugee Council and the Church of Ireland and everyone here this would not have been possible.”
Nick Henderson said that over the last 10 years the situation had worsened and with the pressure on the housing market it was very difficult for people who had been granted refugee status to find housing. There are currently about 900 people stuck in direct provision, he said. “This is a project designed to meet the needs of these people,” he stated. He added that another aspect of their programme was the advice they were able to give people helping those who are in the maelstrom of the housing crisis and the asylum process. He paid tribute to the IRC staff for the work they do and thanked the people of Dublin & Glendalough for their support.
During the service Psalms were read by Canon Horace McKinley and Raed. Nonty read the poem ‘The Prophets are Weeping’ written by President Michael D Higgins. Pianist and composer Cerinet Ayele provided a musical reflection on journeys and accompanied Hilary Bow in her performance of ‘Don’t See Any Lines’. Prayers were led by Aoife Coleman, Housing Officer with IRC.
While the Dublin & Glendalough appeal has ended the Irish Refugee Council’s housing programme continues. They continue to develop and grow the programme and hope to add new properties, maintain existing properties, develop their social supports and work with residents on transitioning on to permanent accommodation. The IRC will also be developing their community sponsorship work and continuing to advocate for alternatives to direct provision.