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Open Community

CAIRDE - The Open Community Allies Network

Community Sponsorship
Community Sponsorship was pioneered in Canada in the 1970s. After four decades of the programme’s success, we know that this is hugely positive for the lives of both refugees and local communities.
Refugees referred to the Community Sponsorship programme go directly to the community where they will reside and immediately begin the process of settlement. Under community sponsorship, private citizens and community organisations, rather than government officials, become the face of welcome for resettled refugees arriving to their country; supporting them through the process by providing a range of social and emotional supports, as well as providing accommodation, assisting in learning the language and seeking employment, enrolling in schools and any other necessary assistance. 
With Community Sponsorship programme in Ireland, communities will be supported to provide direct assistance to refugees settling in their locality though a structured programme backed by a unique collaboration between government, UNHCR, NGOs and civil society.

Cairde: Allies Network is coordinated in close collaboration between The Open Community and Open Doors Initiative. It seeks to engage key areas of Irish society from  business, education and sport to religious, community and other groups. Allies partners commit via a Pledge to promote sponsorship across their networks, provide industry or sector expertise and provide training or employment opportunities wherever possible.

The Open Community:
The Open Community is the national support organisation for Ireland’s Community Sponsorship programme. The Open Community represents a collaborative partnership between the programme’s key partners, who work collectively to develop supports and resources that help to scale the programme. The Open Community provides three primary functions including the national promotion of the programme, the ongoing coordination of discussions between key stakeholders, and the development of a range of programme resources.

  • Promote Community Sponsorship across employee and/or community networks to encourage and support the formation of new CSGs.
  • Provide industry or sector expertise and funding (on a pro bono basis wherever possible)
  • Include Community Sponsorship as part of CSR commitments: e.g., Commit volunteer days to community sponsorship activities or provide employment opportunities

Why we are talking to you:

  • You are a leader in Irish society.
  • You existing networks can help bring people together in our communities - which can help others in need.
  • We need your help to create supports for refugee families living in Ireland.
  • Help us create a home from home for families seeking safety.

Examples of Possible Engagement:

  • Business - Offer employment of different types to workers on merit. Help fund community sponsorship groups
  • Banking - Create dedicated bank accounts available to CSG and refugees 
  • Insurance - Design a specific policy that provides protection to CSGs
  • Sporting Associations - Provide access to existent community networks
  • Education/training - Support employment training supports and other training opportunities
  • Charity sector - Access volunteers and existing community development skills
  • Other engagements - We are open to innovative and lateral approaches to helping – talk to us

Benefits to Cairde partners

  • Development of team building.
  • New skills imbued in the workforce at all levels - leadership, coordination, communication, fundraising, social marketing and budgeting skills.  
  • An enhanced sense of social purpose and CSR opportunities.
  • A new collaborative approach to community engagement.
  • Growth of multigenerational networks both in and outside of the organisation.
  • Possible new employees from diverse backgrounds with lateral thinking, creativity and resilience.

The Allies Partner Pledge:
Allies are asked to commit via a Pledge to:

  • Promote Community Sponsorship across their network to encourage the formation of community sponsorship groups where possible;
  • Share the ethos of Community Sponsorship to help communities and refugees build interactions that foster positive attitudes and create a community of advocates for the rights of refugees; and,
  • Work in cooperation with The Open Community and its partners to meet the challenges and realise the unique opportunities presented by Community Sponsorship. 

Click here to download a FAQ document about The Open Community.

Please contact us for more information:

Summary of Work

Participant companies have pledged to support the creation of inclusive pathways to employment by offering a variety of employability interventions. Some of the interventions thus far include:

  • An Ireland wide online employability platform which provides free, interactive online training to provide those aged 15-24 the skills and confidence to own their career development.
  • An internship programme that harnesses the special characteristics and talents of people with autism, and uses these unique talents as a competitive advantage, helping people with autism secure meaningful employment.
  • An employment programme working with young people aged from 18-25 coming a foster care background to help them gain employment, and then provide the candidates with the support and practical advice that they need in order to be successful in their roles once they have gained employment.
  • A programme that works with people from immigrant or refugee backgrounds and features pre-employment training, one to one guidance and opportunities for work experience.
  • A programme that supports refugees to understand, appreciate and integrate successfully into Irish society and to facilitate language acquisition.  
  • The establishment of a fund that provides grants to community groups, charities, and NGOs for new projects that support and inspire young people – helping to bridge the divide between education and the workplace.
  • The establishment of a fund that provides grants to community groups, charities, and NGOs for new projects that support and inspire young people – helping to bridge the divide between education and the workplace.
  • An academy that provides training and mentoring for the unemployed in all aspects of hospitality giving participants job opportunities as well as confidence and pride to grow through the business.
  • Partnering with an employability service to assist people who have a range of disabilities and/or impairments, to obtain employment.
  • A programme targeted toward refugees and asylum seekers that provides an eight week training in hospitality skills, followed by a four week place work placement in a pub, hotel or restaurant.  
  • Engagement programmes targeted toward primary schools, 2nd level schools and community organisations.
  • Development of access entry routes for school leavers and adults from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and for people with disabilities.

Case Studies


Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise Jeanne McDonagh CEO at the Open Doors Initiative  

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