Hope Away From Home - World Refugee Day 2023

June 2023

Welcome is at the heart of YMCA, and along with our values of opportunity, wellbeing and peace & justice – we care passionately about being an inclusive and welcoming organisation to everyone. 

Each year on 20 June, the world celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution.

The 2023 theme of World Refugee Day is hope away from home.

The YMCA has a long history of working with newcomers and refugees across the world, particularly during times of crisis and war. As an all island movement within Ireland, our work with Newcomers and Ethnic Minorities extends across many locations and areas, from Family Support and Youth Work to Advocacy and Vocational services.

In response to international crises across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the YMCA in Ireland has strived to be a place of welcome and support for newcomers and those seeking asylum across the island. This is particularly evident through the Ethnic Minorities Support project in North Down YMCA, which has been working across communities to engage and support refugees with immigration advice, english classes and advocacy help for over 10 years. 

YMCA Cork has a long history of welcoming and supporting newcomers and people from ethnic minority backgrounds within their Youth and Family Support work. Support provided includes after school and homework clubs, youth information and advocacy, vocational training opportunities and opportunities for children and young people to engage in fun activities like music, drama, art and sport with their peers. The YMCA with Cork City and West Cork takes an active role in partnering with young people and other local organisations to raise awareness and campaign for issues of importance to them including Racial Justice.

Over the years, Dublin YMCA has worked with asylum seekers across the city through integration and youth work and more recently with their Réidh Service – supporting participants aged 16-30 with employment, training and education opportunities. They also partner with the Irish Refugee Council to support their Warm Welcome series, hosting young people for sports, socialising, and getting to know the local community.

As we have seen more and more newcomers arrive within our towns and communities, the YMCA has been well placed to engage and support both young people and their families as they are faced with the challenges of a new country and culture. Carrickfergus YMCA has been working with young men through their Independent Living programme and supporting those in temporary accommodation through their Welcome Centre and outreach work. Much of this work has been around supporting and signposting, as well as partnering with other local organisations to provide English classes and other educational opportunities.

Newcastle YMCA has been working with young people and families within the town, providing after school programmes and young women’s projects for refugees and asylum seekers. After receiving funding from the County Down Rural Community Network, Newcastle YMCA are partnering with Greenhill YMCA to provide a range of indoor and outdoor activities for newcomer young people and families over the summer period.

As each local association responds to the unique needs and opportunities they face  – we continue to be led by our national mission of creating inclusive communities where everyone feels welcomed, accepted and inspired by social justice and peace for all.

You can read more about our national vision, mission and values here