A Lack of Social Support, Poor Material Circumstances and Racism Create Difficulties for Lone Refugee and Asylum Seeking Mothers and their Children in Ireland

Posted on: 07 November 2005

A new study, Making a New Life in Ireland: Lone Refugee and Asylum Seeking Mothers and their Children, launched today, November 7th 2005, and published by the Vincentian Refugee Centre and the Children’s Research Centre, Trinity College, shows that the lack of social support and poor material circumstances experienced by lone refugee and asylum seeking mothers were the greatest obstacles for them in making a new life in Ireland.   The support of their children contributed to the mothers’ resilience and capacity to manage.  

Children living in asylum seeking and refugee lone parent families interviewed for this study identified that disrupted schooling, racism and living in direct provision accommodation had a negative impact on their well-being.  Making new friends, family support and valuing peace and access to education were some of the positive factors identified by young people in managing their new life.

Liam O’ Dálaigh, Director of Services with the Daughters of Charity, co-funders of this research, stated that:

“This report presents a disturbing account of the experiences of asylum seeking and refugee women and their children living in Ireland today. The Irish government’s ability to show leadership and introduce humanitarian policy on these issues will be a determining factor on the health of the nation as a tolerant and inclusive society in the future.  The recommendations in this report are welcomed as a means to achieving that end”.

This qualitative study sought to explore the experiences and needs of lone parent asylum seeking and refugee mothers and children and identify potential responses to these needs.  Dr. Jean Whyte, Senior Research Fellow, Children’s Research Centre, co-author of the report stated that:

“Giving a voice to children, particularly those whose voices are marginalised, is central to the work of the Children’s Research Centre, and this work also contributes to meeting the goals of the National Children’s Strategy”.

The research will be launched on Monday, 7th November 2005 at 11 a.m. in the Vincentian Refugee Centre, St. Peter’s Church, Phibsboro, Dublin by Ms Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson of the Strategic Monitoring Group for the National Action Plan Against Racism.  The authors, Dr. Karen Smyth and Dr. Jean Whyte, Children’s Research Centre will present the findings.