Direct provision, diminished development: an exploration of the impact that residing in the Lissywollen Direct Provision Centre has had on the social, personal and academic development of child asylum seekers.
The purpose of this research was to explore how residents of the Lissywollen Direct Provision Centre, Athlone perceive living in the direct provision system has impacted on their social, personal and academic development as children. The research provided a retrospective perspective into the lives of young asylum seekers and how the direct provision policy impacted them as children. No research had been conducted previously on this topic. The Legal Framework provided the reader with a clear and succinct legal perspective and contextualisation of the national and international instruments pertaining to asylum seekers and the direct provision system. The Literature Review detailed the existing body of knowledge pertaining mainly to concerns and issues which other research has highlighted. The study was conducted using a qualitative empirical method in the form of semi-structured interviews. The researcher interviewed six young asylum seekers aged between eighteen and twenty three, who are proficient in English and who resided at the Lissywoolen Direct Provision centre in Athlone. The semi-structured interviews explored the interviewee’s perception of how living in direct provision has impacted on their social, personal and academic development. No previous research had been undertaken on the perceived impact of this policy on the social, personal and academic development of young people, who reside in Direct Provision centres. The findings indicated that there is a perception amongst the young asylum seekers interviewed that living in direct provision has 10 impacted on their social, personal and academic development as children. Under these three seminal headings, a number of topics were further explored. Social development was considered further under the topics including family relationships; the daily routine in the centre; interaction; communal facilities; and financial support. The findings suggest that the restrictive living conditions and language barriers are impacting on family relationships and the social order. The daily routine in the centre is monotonous and boring and is a major factor in serious mental health concerns. There was no evidence to suggest that the management of the centre were organising social activities to improve interaction at the site. Most residents preferred a self-catering system rather than the current bed and board system. The stipend of €19.10 per adult per week and €9.60 per child per week is inadequate to provide the basic necessities for families. The personal development heading was explored further by exploring topics such as personal space and privacy and the effects of the determination process on individuals. Most participants recognise their own room as their personal space but that this space is too small to meet the requirements of a young person. Some participants described how waiting on a determination of their application has impacted them. The academic development heading was further considered by exploring preparedness for school and extra-curricular activities and play. Most participants find it difficult to study in confined spaces and therefore have to concentrate harder to ensure they are adequately prepared for school. Asylum seekers are precluded from attending third level institutions unless they receive philanthropical support. Asylum seekers find it difficult to take part in extra-curricular activities such as school excursions, sports teams, and dance, drama or music classes because of an inability to pay fees or to purchase gear or costumes. Most participants favour an overhaul of the current direct provision system and a fairer and faster determination process.
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