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Evaluation of Barnardos' services to refugees in Dun Laoghaire and guidelines for best practice in dealing with the needs of refugees and asylum seekers

Research Staff

Dr. Jean Whyte, Ms. Tina Byrne

About the Project


In recent years Ireland, like other EU countries, has become a destination for asylum seekers who are seeking refuge. There is little empirical research documenting the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland. In July 2001, Barnardos, the East Coast Area Health Board and Southside Partnership finalised an assessment of the childcare needs of asylum seekers in the Old School House hostel in Dun Laoghaire. In response to the findings of the needs analysis, Barnardos established a project to support the families and unaccompanied minors in the hostel. The project began in March 2002 with a survey based on interviews with all the families and individuals then resident. It was wound down in September 2003 due to a realignment of Health Board resources.

What did the research focus on?

The research project had two aims:

  • to provide a review of the services provided for residents in the Old Schoolhouse Hostel in Dun Laoghaire.
  • to develop Best Practice Guidelines for supporting refugees and their families through a review of the literature.

What did the research involve?

This research was largely desk-based but it involved a number of visits to the site and meetings with key personnel. For the review, a summary was drawn up from the databases provided by Barnardos of the families who used the services. It was found that the number of residents in the hostel and their age profile changed on an almost weekly basis. Overall in the previous 12 months 93 separated children from 24 different countries and 64 families from 16 different countries had been resident in the hostel. The kinds of services and the activities provided and availed of were also listed and the attendance of individuals, families and separated children (unaccompanied minors) at each had been recorded. There were records of the numbers of volunteers involved. Guidelines for Best Practice were developed on the basis of a literature search using the Internet and library sources for international (especially EU-based) material as well as reports written within an Irish context. It identified firstly the kinds of needs that refugees and asylum seekers have been found to have and then the kinds of practice that have been developed in different countries to meet those needs.

Examples are given of the kinds of supports and facilities being developed in other European countries in each of the areas of concern; language, information, orientation, integration and health. A number of shortcomings in the provisions made to meet the needs of refugees and asylum seekers are identified and recommendations are made.

Final products of the research

The research was carried out between January 2003 and July 2003. The main outputs were two reports. Barnardos published the Best Practice Guidelines in the autumn of 2004.

Last updated 15 March 2010 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).