While life is not always easy there, there were smiles all around at the Rosslare Direct Provision Centre last week as gardaí busily carried box after box from the boots of their squad cars into the building. Their aim was to provide a little bit of a boost and small bit of optimism at what is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, not least of all those who have fled difficult circumstances in their homelands.
It started out as a conversation within the walls of Wexford Garda Station. The Community Policing Unit, made up of Sgt Denis Murphy, Garda Anne Quirke, Garda David Fitzgerald, Garda Denis Costello and Garda Richie Murray, were looking for little ways to make a difference, when thoughts turned to the Rosslare Asylum Accommodation Centre.
A call was made to management there, asking what kind of items the residents there were in need of and it stemmed from there. Before they knew it, gardaí and all the staff at Wexford Garda Station were arriving into work with items to be donated to the centre. Adults and kids clothes were very much on the wanted list, while items like toys and even buggies for the children were sourced and collected by the gardaí.
In total, well over 20 boxes of items were presented into the grateful arms of the residents at the Direct Provision Centre and they were extremely thankful to the local gardaí and all the staff at the station.
'The residents here are so appreciative of it all,' said Centre Manager Paul Walsh. 'It was needed to. A lot of the lads here had been out working in the local community, but unfortunately there jobs are gone since Covid. They were delighted to get clothes, shoes and other bits. A lot of the stuff was brand new. We have two new babies here, so the gardaí brought down a new double buggy for them, which was really nice.'
As well as the donations of the gardaí, the staff at the Covid-19 test centre in Wexford also had a collection for the residents and Paul says that the generosity that the residents have been shown since the centre opened a year ago is phenomenal.
'I can safely say that there's been zero negativity,' he said. 'We've seen non-stop generosity and people have been warm and welcoming. A lot of our work looks at getting residents out into the community and working. The kids go to school locally and people have quickly recognised that these people are here to bolster and add to the local community and help to sustain the local economy. By getting them out into the local community, people can see that these are nice, polite people who want to contribute and appreciate what they have.
'In the old days, Direct Provision was high walls and people were worried about what was on the other side. That's not the case any more and all these people want is to contribute to society.'
On behalf of the residents, Mr Walsh issued a massive thank you to gardaí and everyone who has donated to the centre.