Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities
In April 2001, the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities launched the 'One Stop' Service for Asylum Seekers and Refugees. This service is unique and is the only service in Northern Ireland, which offers direct advice, guidance and representation to Asylum Seekers. The 'One Stop Shop,' currently, provides advice and guidance to Asylum Seekers in Northern Ireland, in respect of a range of services, such as accommodation, financial support, legal advice, English language classes, volunteering, advice on accessing training courses and a range of other matters.
The activities and work of the service have expanded rapidly in a short period of time and many additional needs have been identified. Currently, in Northern Ireland, there is a lack of awareness among service providers regarding the needs of asylum seekers and there is therefore an urgent need to conduct a needs assessment and skills and qualification audit, which NICEM is proposing to address through the ASSET UK programme. NICEM's principle aim is to establish and develop an Advice & Guidance service to compliment the existing activities and work of NICEM's 'One Stop' service and to address the gap in access to training and employment opportunities for asylum seekers in Northern Ireland.
In partnership with public authorities, health and social services trusts, educational institutions, service providers and other organisations NICEM will concentrate on the following areas of work: Skills/Qualification audit, Orientation programme, English Language classes, Volunteering programme for asylum seekers, ESOL training, IT training, Interpreters training and an Employment Guidance service.
NICEM has employed a full time Development Worker, who will work directly with Asylum Seekers, who come through NICEM's 'One Stop' Service and who are keen to pursue training and volunteering activities. Key to the provision of the service is the Skills Audit, which will be conducted with each individual Asylum Seeker and will form the basis of identifying suitable opportunities and working with individuals to develop a personal C.V and work plan. The Advice & Guidance Development Worker will also be on hand to provide regular support to individuals and track progress.
The work of the Advice & Guidance Development Worker is two-fold and as well as direct advice and guidance, the Development Worker, will also work with the local partners in developing a wide range of service provision and opportunities for Asylum Seekers in Northern Ireland. The main objective is the mainstreaming of service provision for Asylum Seekers and ensuring that other agencies become inclusive of Asylum Seekers in the development of good practice.