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A ceád míle fáilte to our newest neighbours

Anne Dempsey
Written by: Anne Dempsey
Third Age


Hundreds of older people are volunteering to welcome migrants and refugees to Ireland, writes Anne Dempsey.

Fáilte Isteach

Fáilte Isteach began a decade ago with a handful of students and volunteer tutors. It now has 110 branches, with 3,200 students from over 50 countries receiving 72,000 hours of tuition during the academic year.

This dramatic expansion illustrates the need in today’s Ireland and the organisation today finds itself working with a growing number of refugees. Fáilte Isteach is a community project welcoming migrants through conversational English classes. 

The project provides the necessary language skills in a student-centred and inclusive manner, while involving older volunteers as tutors, and recognising their skills, expertise and contribution to the community.

The work of Fáilte Isteach is featured prominently in a national report launched recently in Dublin by David Stanton TD, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration. 

Challenges faced by migrants

The Report on Language and Migration in Ireland is the result of collaborative research between NUI Galway and the Immigrant Council of Ireland funded by the Irish Research Council.

The report looked at the linguistic challenges that migrants face daily and the centrality of language to an individual’s identity.

“The work of Fáilte Isteach represented one of the few opportunities for migrants to have real interaction with Irish people and Irish accents,” said Dr Anne O’Connor, NUIG, report author.

Fáilte Isteach is a national programme of Third Age, a not-for-profit organisation committed to social inclusion in 21st-century Ireland. All Third Age programmes provide a bridge of friendship, connection and contact for people, who may be isolated by age, language, technology or frailty.

The programme is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Iris O’Brien Foundation. 

Education and integration

“We are different in that we combine education with integration,” explains Liam Carey, Programme Manager with Fáilte Isteach. “Our Irish volunteer tutors are drawn from the local community.

“As well as passing on conversation language skills, their aim is to welcome new migrants into their community. This helps break down any barriers and facilitates friendships and neighbourliness.”

This point is echoed by Dr O’Connor. “A central recommendation of the report is the support of community initiatives such as Fáilte Isteach which allow for opportunities for linguistic exchanges which are valued greatly by migrants.” 

Interested in setting up a Fáilte Isteach Group?

Follow our five-step guide:

  • Identify if there is a local need and contact us;
  • Recruit eight to 10 volunteers;
  • Find a suitable venue;
  • Receive training from a Fáilte Isteach team;
  • Advertise for students and begin classes.

To find out more about Fáilte Isteach contact Third Age at 046 955 7766.


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Top tips for staying cool

  • Keep out of the heat. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out, wear a hat and keep to the shade as much as possible. It’s very important to use sun screen of at least factor 15.
  • If you are travelling by car or public transport always take a bottle of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and limit activities like housework and gardening to the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • When inside, try to stay in the coolest parts of your home. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun. Remember that lights generate heat. Keep windows shut while it’s cooler inside than out and open them when it gets hotter inside. If it’s safe, you could leave a window open at night when it’s cooler. Fans can help sweat evaporate but do not cool the air itself.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured cotton clothing.
  • Take cool baths or showers.
  • Splash your face with cold water or place a damp cloth or scarf on the back of your neck to help you cool off.
  • Drink lots of fluid – even if you’re not thirsty. Limit drinks with caffeine (like coffee and cola) and avoid alcohol as it can increase dehydration.
  • Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruit as they contain a lot of water.

Dehydration and overheating

Extreme heat and humidity can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat. Watch out for certain signs: particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, pale skin, heavy sweating and a high temperature.

If you have any of these symptoms you must:

  • find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
  • drink plenty of water or fruit juice
  • sponge yourself with cold water or have a cool shower.

If you’re having difficulty, or your symptoms persist for several hours, seek medical advice. Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated - but it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heatstroke include hot and red skin, headaches, nausea, intense thirst, raised temperature, confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.

So if you or someone else shows symptoms:

  • call 999 immediately or 112 if you are in the European Union (you can call 112 from a mobile for free). If you have a community or personal alarm press the button on your pendant to call for help.
  • while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given above for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.

Further information

If you live alone consider asking a relative or friend to visit or phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.

  • If you know a neighbour who lives alone, check they are ok.
  •  Check for weather forecasts and temperature warnings on TV and radio, and online at
  • If you have breathing problems or a heart condition your symptoms might get worse when it’s very hot.
  • For further advice about heat-related illness contact your GP.

Summer Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Summer Raffle. We're so grateful to everyone who participated and who raised more than 18,000 euro to support older people in Ireland.

This year's winners were:

1st Prize winner €1,500

S Deegan, Dublin

2nd Prize winner €1,000

A Parks, Dublin

3rd Prize winner €500

M Dangerfield, Dublin

And the winner of our Sellers Prize was:

Sellers Prize €100

M Kane, Galway, €100

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference.


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A ceád míle fáilte to our newest neighbours | Age Action


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