Information Session on Labour Market Access

There is still a lot of uncertainty about the right to work for asylum Seekers.  If you are interested please attend this session.

Sarah McGeough, the DAF Employment Mediator of Westmeath Community Development will hold an information session on

Date: 30th August

Time: 12:15

Location: Community room, Asylum Seeker Unit, Lissywollen, Athlone

The very brief guide:

To qualify for the right to work you must meet all of these conditions:

  1. Be an international protection applicant; and
  2. Have not received a first instance recommendation on their protection application; and
  3. Has been waiting at least 8 months for their first instance recommendation; and
  4. Has been cooperating with the international protection process – delays in receiving a recommendation must not be due to any actions taken by the applicant.

This is the link to the information booklet for labour market access for international protection applicants –





Refugee Online Learning – Restart Meeting

Wow, that was some summer, I hope you all have had a good time.

However, now it’s raining and showing signs of autumn so it’s time to get the Refugee Online Education program up and running again.

ROLE 2018-2019 Planning meeting

Monday 20th August – Education Room – Athlone Accommodation Unit – 11:00 to 12:30


  • Introduction to ROLE
  • Information for new students
  • Information for existing students
  • Schedule – Dates, times, locations
  • Any other business

All welcome, please pass this on to anyone interested in further education.






Family Fun Day!

In the Lissywollen centre on the 23rd of August 2018. 12.30 – 2.00/2.30 pm

Bouncy castles and food and all sorts of fun.

All welcome! See you there!

Fields of Gold

Being a refugee support volunteer is difficult, in dark moments I think it’s impossible.

But there are those wonderful days when we walk in fields of purest gold.

Thursday was one of them,  when we presented certificates for the Refugee Online Education course.

Learners and tutors and organisers all gathered in AIT to celebrate a remarkable achievement.

We had done our baseline studies in English, Mathematics and Information Technology. Then we had started MOOCS in specialist study areas. Worldwide the completion rate for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) is 5%. We achieved 80%!

There are no words of thanks possible that would describe the contribution made by Theresa and Chris and Pat and Mairead and Geraldine and Stephen and Majella and so many, many more.

But the real thanks must go to the people who participated in the course. They had the courage to start something strange and new; the persistence to keep going in difficult circumstances; the compassion to help each other.

Once, someone climbed a gate to get to class!  What better feedback could you possible get than this?

It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with you all and I look forward to continuing to do so.

It’s been a marvelous beginning but it’s just a beginning. Now we will show the world what we can do!


Another Refugee Online Education Course

We are now finishing the initial run of the ROLE course and the general opinion is that it has been very successful.  Nine people are continuing advanced online courses.
There have been a lot of requests to run a second one, this time on site. This would be particularly useful for people who, for family reasons,  can’t get away to AIT for a full day.
We are working hard to get our computer lab in-a-box up and running. When we get this done, hopefully week ending 27th,  we will be able to start operations on site.
We will have a meeting about it during next week, keep an eye out for notices on the noticeboards.
Congratulations to the people who organised the St. Patrick’s Day parade entry. New Horizon was the winner in the Voluntary Category.
The awards and presentation evening will be held in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel on Sunday, April 22nd at 6pm.
Thank you for participating and helping to create a successful parade for Athlone.

The Mamtrasna murders

I spent a fascinating hour last night watching this on TG4. The defendants, who did not speak any English, were lost in the nightmare of a legal system they could not start to comprehend. It ended in the predictable way, with three men hanged, one of whom was certainly innocent.

Now why does this remind me so much of the asylum determination process? People who barely understand simple English lost in a kafkaesque world of processes and appeals.

The Mamtrasna Murders