Report calls for ‘a better, fairer, more equitable’ direct provision as youths voice challenges
2017-08-04 11:02:23 -
By Staff Reporter

Children and young people who live in direct provision have similar challenges to adults in the system, according to a newly published study.

The report of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ (DCYA) consultations with minors living in direct provision was commissioned following the 2015 report of the working group on improvements to the protection process.

The mixed-methodology report was based on a wide range of topics selected by the participants, such as food, education and homework clubs, and the size and quality of accommodation.

It also looked at rules and restrictions in direct provision centres, the waiting time for applications for leave to remain, and stigma and racism associated with life in the system, among other issues.

In many cases, the report highlights, children “displayed some difficulties in identifying what they liked” about their lives.

This resulted “in significantly less data than the things they dislike and wish to change.”

Many of the children (aged eight to 12) mentioned on-site activities including homework clubs, computer rooms, playgrounds and sports fields, barbecues as well as summer camps and day trips.

Meanwhile, teenagers in direct provision located in Irish cities appreciated the ease of access to school, public transport and a social life.

In terms of accommodation, the teens who live in large houses appreciated the rooms, the space and central heating. They also praised some centre managers and bus drivers, and highlighted the friendships and sense of community where they live.

However, children and teenagers alike were largely in agreement over their family’s lack of control over meals, as well as a general sense of poor living conditions, lack of space and privacy, poor or no internet access as relied on for school work, and perceived disrespect from centre staff.

In one instance, a teenage respondent said: “People discriminate against us because of our backgrounds and because we’re different, and also they say stuff like ‘You’re poor’ and ‘Go back to your own country.’”

This is compounded, the report adds, by young people in direct provision not being allowed to travel with their classmates on school trips abroad.

For many teenagers in direct provision, their home life comes with a constant feeling of being “watched and controlled by staff” with “cameras in the rooms and around the centres; rules preventing access to the gym and TV room for under-18s; not being allowed visitors; [and] lack of access to outside social life with peers.” 

Teens were also concerned about the presence of large numbers of single men, which created discomfort and fear especially among teenage girls. 

The report calls for stakeholders to make direct provision “a better, fairer and more equitable system” for residents. 

“For this participation to be meaningful, there needs to be an open and transparent consideration by those in positions of authority of the views contained in this report, and a rigorous, clear and accessible response to the issues that these children and young people have raised in this singular process,” it states.
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