Balseskin Open Day

PRESS RELEASE: Balseskin Open Day showcases the Fáilte Project, an innovative health and wellbeing initiative for asylum seekers. 

An innovative mental health and wellbeing pilot project reaching out to hundreds of asylum seekers on their arrival in Ireland is being showcased as part of an Open Day in Balseskin Reception Centre today. One of the key issues for asylum seekers highlighted in the McMahon Report was poor mental health among protection applicants.

The Balsekin Fáilte project delivered by JRS Ireland in partnership with the HSE National Social Inclusion Office and Balseskin Reception Centre provides a unique opportunity to offer a range of targeted mental health and wellbeing supports early in the asylum process for recently arrived applicants onsite. This project supported more than 500 asylum seekers and IRPP beneficiaries in Balseskin Reception Centre over the past 12 months.

Mr Eugene Quinn, JRS Ireland, National Director said:

 “The Balseskin Failte project is an innovative and proactive response to well documented mental health issues encountered by asylum seekers in Direct Provision. This approach of frontloading supports and information for protection applicants immediately after arrival will yield long term benefits, through better mental health and enabling asylum seekers live with greater dignity.”

The Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, Mr David Stanton, TD., launched a JRS Ireland resource, developed under the Fáilte project, which provides move-on information for Balseskin residents who will be dispersed to accommodation centres in 34 locations across Ireland. This resource aims to support dispersed asylum seekers with integrating into their new communities.

The Open Day in Balseskin Reception Centre provided the opportunity for the 300 residents of the centre to be welcomed by and link with over thirty NGOs, community organisations and support groups to learn about the wide range of services available to them onsite and in the local community. The ongoing work and contribution of both volunteers and asylum seekers, who are active participants in the Finglas and wider Dublin community while living at Balseskin, was celebrated and recognised.

Retired High Court and former Chair of the Working Group on the Protection Process, Judge Bryan McMahon, endorsed the Open Day and Balseskin Fáilte project.

Poor mental health and isolation experienced by asylum seekers was highlighted during the Working Group deliberations. I am delighted that a model of support in Balseskin has been developed that promotes positive mental health and wellbeing and also forges strong links with the local community. The presence of so many service providers from the local community tells residents that while at times they may feel invisible in Ireland, they are not forgotten.

Similarly, Ms Diane Nurse, HSE National Lead for Social Inclusion, welcomed the project:

 “The holistic nature of the Fáilte project in supporting improvement of mental health and wellbeing of a very vulnerable group arriving on our shores offers positive opportunities for relief, reflection and strengthening of coping strategies. I commend all involved in this innovative and inspiring project.”