Online Drop-in Clinic

Because of the virus shutdown I’ve been exploring how to run online meetings as an alternative to person-to-person contact.
This would allow New Horizon to restart our drop-in information clinics, language classes and social gatherings.
The software is called Zoom, is easy to use and can be accessed via laptop or mobile phone.
For many years we have been running a drop-in clinic on the Athlone site.
I’ve now set up a recurring online meeting from 12:00 to 13:00 on Wednesdays starting tomorrow 18th March.

Gerry Callaghan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Every Wednesday 12:00 to 13:00

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 611 581 895

If you are free, please join us.
We can also consider restarting our language classes using Zoom.
Many thanks to the volunteers who worked so long and hard on the drop-in clinic over the years.
Look after yourselves.


As we all know there are serious measures being taken nationally to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Direct provision sites are a particular concern as they pose a very serious problem in implementing self-isolation of suspect cases. If the virus gets into a site then it’s hard to see a method of preventing it spreading like wildfire.
To reduce the danger New Horizon need to:
  • Reduce physical contact with residents to an absolute minimum to  reduce the risk of contagion
  • Maintain a trusted communications channel to counter the feeling of isolation and  the spread of wild rumours.
We have to take the following actions:
  • All volunteers are strongly advised to take precautions given on the Health Service Executive Coronavirus page
  • Suspend Parent and Toddler, Children’s book club, Kingfisher Arts Club, English language classes, Computer classes, Arabic Language and Culture classes, and Drop-in centres. This suspension will be reviewed on 29th March.
We are working on creating an online drop-in clinic where residents can get the latest information. This, obviously, will not be delivering medical advice, just links to sites containing reliable information.
It can be accessed either online or via audio calls.
Links will be circulated when it is ready.
Please let me know if anyone is aware of particular difficulties
Best regards
Gerry Callaghan


David and Fortunate facing deportation!


David and Fortunate facing deportation!

AIT Students and community volunteers facing deportation after four years in Direct Provision

David and Fortunate Nesengani faced persecution in South Africa because of Fortunate’s Zimbabwean nationality, and moved around trying to escape it, experiencing violence in Capetown, and eventually making their way to Ireland in 2016 to claim asylum. Due to a combination of communication difficulties and difficulties in recounting traumatic events of many years ago, they were given deportation orders and are set to be deported on the 19th March 2020.

David is a 2nd Year Social Care student on work placement in Gateway Athlone, and volunteers with New Horizon in the Community Garden in Lissywollen, and has volunteered in Care Homes in the past. His wife is an active community volunteer in her churches Sunday School, the Direct Provision Centre Homework Club, and several Athlone Care Homes. She is studying on the Access Course with a view to getting into a degree course next year like her husband. They both are keen to be eventually granted the right to work and earn a living for themselves, and to get out of Direct Provision. They are valuable members of the community and have displayed resilience, initiative and drive. Fortunate was visited in her caravan Lissywollen Direct Provision Centre by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in January in recognition for her work in assisting a fellow Direct Provision resident when he was dying, and informing his family, arranging his funeral, arranging places for his family to stay for the funeral, and ensuring he got a dignified send off.

Ironically the Ministers visit happened around the time that her deportation order was being signed off by Civil Servants, though it was not communicated to them until much later.

The Minister for Justice has the power to grant them leave to remain on humanitarian grounds. We implore him to do so, so that the valuable contributions they continue to make to the community in Athlone are not lost.


Celebrating Cultures – Come join us!

Athlone Institute of Technology are holding their Cultures week from 2nd to 5th March.

New Horizon will be presenting our Celebrating Cultures Roadshow on Tuesday 3rd March from 12:30 to 15:00. Talks and music and movies and an opportunity to tell our story to the wider world.

All welcome!


Human Rights: The Rights of Refugees

Amnesty International have produced an online course Human Rights: The Rights of Refugees

It’s a very useful course for volunteers and refugees,  taking 3-5 hours per week for three weeks.

About this course

Across the world, barriers are growing. Every day people fleeing war and persecution find the door slammed in their face.

Refugees have human rights. What are these rights? Who is responsible for upholding and protecting them? How can we hold them to account?

What you’ll learn:

  • How to explain and defend the human rights of refugees
  • The role of governments in preventing human rights violations against refugees
  • How to challenge misconceptions, prejudices and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards refugees and asylum seekers
  • How to take action to protect the rights of people in need of international protection


An ambition achieved

In the middle 2000’s N and her family lived on the Athlone DP site.

The day she got her Irish passport she  said to me “Now I’ll be able to do the Haj”

Congratulations on having achieved a lifetimes ambition.

Leaving Limbo: “Strength is not about pretending to be okay”


Our dear young friends Natasha and Minahil are stars in the Documentary Leaving Limbo: “Strength is not about pretending to be okay

They have grown up in the Lissywollen Direct Provision site in Athlone and have completed their Leaving certificate.

Natasha and Minahil have shown just what is possible to achieve in extremely difficult circumstances.

Their first venture was an RTE DOC-ON-One Podcast “Our Teenage life behind bars“.  After that they became UNICEF youth ambassadors telling the story of young people in direct provision in Ireland.

There is a lot of talk about the costs, in both human and monetary terms, of migration. This documentary instead looks at the incredible benefits young people in DP  bring.

“Leaving Limbo” airs Wednesday 1st January, 6.30pm on RTÉ One. Catch up on RTÉ Player.

New Horizon in 2019

The Great Volunteer Margaret!

Dear friends,

I had intended writing before Christmas to say a very sincere thanks for all the work done over the year. However the bereavement on the Athlone site put a stop to that plan and I’m only getting around to doing it now. So it’s New Year greetings instead!
2019 has been a really good year for New Horizon, a quick look back produces an absolutely astonishing list of work done.
In our regular offerings we have; the drop-in clinics, the mother and toddler club, the children’s library, the English language classes, the Arabic language and culture sessions, the various computer skills sessions, the Kingfisher club arts project and lots more.
Let’s not forget the great, and underappreciated, work that goes into volunteer recruitment, training and Garda clearance.
Special events during the year were the Big Hello in Lissywollen and Temple, participation in the Canadian wake and Famine walk events in Strokestown and Mullingar, and of course the great  kids Christmas  party. Better not forget the cosmetics distribution, that was both important and fun!
The organisation has come together in a big way too.
We spent almost six months writing documents and plans, dotting i’s and crossing the t’s for the charity regulator approval. We now have a Data Protection policy, a Business plan, a Child safeguarding statement, a Child safeguarding risk assessment, a Conflict of interest policy, a Constitution, an Organisation chart (phew!). We also have new policies and tools for reclaiming expenses, requesting purchases and handling our new welfare fund.
31st July was a big day when we got our wonderful Regulator of Charities Number 20204649! This enhances our credibility, makes it easier to get funding and gives access to technology donations.
Benefits started flowing practically immediately, Google donated the Gsuite business package, HSE came up with €2000 for children’s library and drop-in clinics. Best of all, AIT students Union did their Day of the Dead Halloween event and donated €4000 to us. The AIT book sale covered the Christmas party costs. The Soroptimists gave a generous donation, contributed to the cosmetics collection and offered support in the future.
We have had training sessions in community development skills, mental health first aid, and self-defence for women. NH has joined the Wheel, the coordinating body for charities and NGOs which gives us access to lots of training and governance materials.

I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has, so generously, donated their time and energy to NH activities. To all volunteers, to donors, to the NH committee, to the AIT management and staff, to the AIT Students union and International Students society, and to the management and staff at Lissywollen and Temple DP sites.To Westmeath community development and Westmeath volunteer centre and Athlone Community radio.

And above all, thanks to current and former residents of the DP sites for allowing us to walk a little part of their road with them.
Thank you all  for your hard work, your cooperation, your help, your kindness and courtesy.
Looking forward to 2020.