AIMED AT improving the integration of Balbriggan's multinational and diverse community is a conference this week hosted by local organisation, Cairde.
The Inspiring Integration Conference in Balbriggan is happening today (November 6) at the Bracken Court Hotel and the organisers hope the event will provide an opportunity to 'share best integration practices from various regions in Ireland and internationally that could be implemented in Balbriggan'. It will also provide a space for the service providers, decision makers, community leaders and residents to network, discuss challenges and successes experienced in our work and life and to draw up strategies for improvement, according to Cairde. Committed to keep integration on the agenda of the local stakeholders Cairde continues integration work in 2012 under a theme 'Inspiring Integration' to provide the people of Balbriggan with practical tips and examples of integration policies that were successful elsewhere and could be implemented in the town. The purpose of this project is to create a space for people to meet and share challenges related to living and working with this diverse population and come up with possible actions and solutions. According to Cairde, with the economic growth Ireland experienced in the Celtic Tiger years, strong inward migration meant Irish cities, town and villages had to accommodate an expanding and diverse population's needs. Balbriggan has one of the highest concentrations of ethnic minorities per head of population in Ireland. The town also has a 'significantly higher' proportion of asylum seekers and people of African origin than other areas in Fingal, the organisation says. Cairde said: 'These demographic shifts and the changing cultural landscape of Balbriggan and Ireland not only challenge people's attitudes but they also present specific challenges to public service providers. 'A number of reports have highlighted the town's under-developed community infrastructure and the poor provision of public services, compared to its size and population, as well as the need for integration between the various members of its communities.'
The Cairde Balbriggan initiative Integration Through Common Experience 2011 (ITCEI) through a series of actions provided a platform for ethnic minority communities and the indigenous Irish community to share their common experiences. This initiative has strengthened the capacities and skills of all community members, both minority and majority, to 'front up' an outreach process in order to ensure maximum engagement in the wider community. Click here to read more about ITCEI. Following from the success of the ITCEI run by Cairde Balbriggan last year a number of recommendations were suggested. Among them was setting up a Balbriggan Integration Forum and organising an integration conference to share best practices of integration that could be implemented in Balbriggan.