The inaugural meeting of the Participation Advisory Group (PAG) was held earlier this term in response to recommendations of the Equality Awards funded project, Learning to Build New Lives and as a continuation of growing collaboration with Dublin City of Sanctuary.
Learning to Build New Lives, conducted in 2017, aimed at facilitating engagement between Trinity College Dublin and refugees and asylum seekers living in Ireland’s Direct Provision accommodation centres in addition to the shared work with the University of Sanctuary movement.
The PAG is co-chaired by Dr Gillian Wylie, Assistant Professor, International Peace Studies and Dr Fintan Sheerin, Lecturer in Intellectual Disability Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Dr Sheerin remarked, “Throughout the past couple of years, we have become aware of many attempts across Trinity to address issues relating to asylum seeking and refuge. The new Participation Advisory Group is an exciting initiative as it provides a unifying platform for such actions and allows for greater collaboration. Furthermore, as a formal College structure, it highlights the importance that Trinity attributes to such work.”
The role of the PAG, is to advise the University’s Engagement Advisory Group on shaping Trinity’s educational response to asylum seekers and refugees. This is an important initiative which seeks to identify and mobilise the College community in collaboratively responding to the educational needs of asylum seekers and refugees, though, for example, provision of English language support, developing professional networks and creating a culture of welcome and inclusion.
Dr Wylie remarked, “We are delighted to be taking action on the recommendations from the Learning to Build New Lives project through the establishment of the PAG and continuing this important dialogue with the university community, including senior management about creating a framework to realize the recommendations.’”
A key aim is that Trinity would join other Irish colleges by becoming a University of Sanctuary. Such an achievement would be contingent on the University identifying ways of supporting young asylum seekers and refugees, who have successfully come through Irish secondary schools, to access undergraduate education at Trinity.