With the arrival of Ukrainian refugees and the increasing numbers of people seeking International Protection from many countries suffering war and conflict, a Glencree Refugee Response Board Sub-Group was set-up in early 2022 to determine how best to respond to the increasing local needs of refugees and those working and volunteering to support them. Online plannings meetings and consultations between the Board, the Glencree Intercultural and Refugee team and local volunteers supporting refugees in the Glencree valley, Enniskerry, Bray and Wicklow inspired the design of a new Glencree Welcomes Refugees Project.
The needs for wellness work expressed by local volunteers resonated with the learnings from the programme’s Hope and Ambition Project about the effectiveness of self-care practices for trauma healing, for refugees and those volunteering and working directly with them. Funding was secured from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to run a pilot phase in the second half of 2022. Strengthening the capacity of the Glencree Intercultural and Refugee project team, Patty Abozaglo, an experienced Wellness and Trauma Facilitator, joined to design and facilitate workshops based on the Capacitar Multicultural self-care practices.
Since August 2022, the Glencree Welcomes Refugees Project has been providing group well-being sessions for refugees and the professionals who work with/care for refugees using Capacitar Multicultural Trauma Healing self-care practices and Laban Dance.
Match funding from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Community Foundation of Ireland has enabled this work to continue in 2023. The current focus is on developing the wellness and trauma healing elements of the project, including talks with other humanitarian bodies on using their facilities to expand the reach across Dublin and Wicklow. Plans to widen the target audience for the Wellness and Relaxation sessions and focus on developing new partnerships with those working with Ukrainians and International Protection applicants especially in Co Wicklow are also in development.
Two partnerships with organisations using the arts to engage Ukrainians and International Protection applicants have developed during 2023. Patty Abozaglo is co-facilitating workshops at Rua Red Arts Centre with the Array Arts Collective from Belfast with Ukrainians and other refugees living in Tallaght. At Clondalkin Intercultural Centre, Patty is co-faciliatating workshops for 3-6 year olds and their parents from diverse refugee backgrounds with an artist from Mother Tongues. These collaborations are developing ways of combining wellness movement practices with arts methodologies to enhance creativity, plurilingualism and overall wellbeing.Throughout 2023, Glencree Welcomes Refugees project collaborations also included an event in partnership with Golf Ireland and a hillwalking day with Sanctuary Hillwalkers supported by Mountaineering Ireland.
“I didn’t know what to expect with the Tai Chi. It was really informative, and lovely to see it used for people who have come from trauma and war-torn countries … I’d like to see more of it for everybody.”
"I was tense when I arrived. I feel much lighter and energised now."
"It was brilliant. The Capacitar Programme offers very useful, powerful balancing techniques. I want to learn more."