Webinar with Megan Vine, 13 October 2022. Discussant: Dora Rebelo
About the webinar
Globally, there are more people displaced or ‘on the move’ than ever before – as political instability and climate destruction continue to drive people from their homes in search of safety. People on the move are subjected to direct and slow forms of border violence, and racialised categorisations that shape their access to resources and justice. Drawing on my PhD research and independent research work, this webinar will offer a comparative analysis of informal and formal solidarity initiatives for different groups of people on the move in Ireland.
People seeking asylum in Ireland are predominantly from African countries and must stay within the Direct Provision (DP) system while their applications are being processed to receive government supports. DP is a privately-run network of hostels and hotels that segregates residents from the wider community and aims to deter asylum-seeking through disempowering regulations, long stays, and poor conditions. Across Ireland, people in DP and the wider community have collaborated to create informal community solidarity initiatives (CSI), to build relational solidarity through shared activities such as cooking, sport, and cultural celebration. Although they do not impact the lived experience of DP, CSI offer a space where people on the move can resist negative social representations of their group and forge friendships with people in the wider community. Cross-group friendships, in turn, mobilise the wider community to stand in solidarity with people on the move, for example by supporting the campaign to abolish Direct Provision.
The Irish government has demonstrated selective solidarity with people on the move through the Community Sponsorship programme for Syrian refugees. Established in 2018, Community Sponsorship provides a community-based alternative to traditional resettlement, where groups of local volunteers collaborate with Regional Support Organisations to offer housing and supports to selected families for two years. Community Sponsorship has positive outcomes for sponsored families in general; however, Covid-19 and world events have negatively impacted the implementation of the programme. Furthermore, a lack of meaningful engagement with sponsored people has impeded their active participation in the programme, with disempowering effects.
Both informal and formal community solidarity initiatives offer fruitful examples of how meaningful solidarity with people on the move can be enacted. Nevertheless, arbitrary categorisation of people on the move impacts their access to rights, entitlements, and supports, and systemic changes such as the abolition of Direct Provision are needed for equity to be achieved. Furthermore, programmes like Community Sponsorship could be adapted to accommodate people from other nationalities, to expand the benefits of this kind of community support beyond a select few.
About the presenter
Megan Vine is a final year PhD student at the Department of Psychology, University of Limerick, and is based in Galway city in the West of Ireland. Megan has been actively involved with a community solidarity group called The Melting Pot Luck in Galway since 2017, supports the campaign to end Direct Provision in Ireland, and is a member of the international Community Psychology and Migrant Justice research network, and the Migration and Diversity research group at UL. Megan’s PhD research uses qualitative, participatory, and quantitative methodologies to investigate experiences and outcomes of community solidarity initiatives with people on the move and host communities. The project is supervised by Dr Ronni Greenwood and Dr Anca Minescu and is funded through the Government of Ireland’s Postgraduate Scholarship programme. In 2022, Megan also collaborated with the Irish Refugee Council and the SHARE network as an independent researcher to evaluate Community Sponsorship in Ireland, as part of a multi-country study.
About the discussant
Dora Rebelo, Ph.D. is a systemic psychologist, recently awarded a PhD in Anthropology. She works as a consultant for humanitarian NGO across the globe and as a researcher and invited lecturer at ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute. She is also an activist for refugee rights and migrant justice at “Fórum Refúgio Portugal” (a refugee-led association) and “Europe Must Act” (a citizen-led advocacy group struggling for refugee rights). Her main professional interests are directed towards community-based solidarity, migrant justice and activist initiatives with communities on the move.