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A ceád míle fáilte to our newest neighbours

Anne Dempsey
Written by: Anne Dempsey
Third Age
16/02/2018

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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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95 year old blogger Florence McGillicuddy is the Silver Surfer of 2019

Age Action Silver Surfer Awards Florence McGillicuddy with Ballyroan Boys NS

95-Year-Old Blogger

Receives Overall Award

At

2019 Age Action Silver Surfer Awards

Supported by DCU Age-Friendly University

 

 

 

95 year-old Florence McGillicuddy from Rathfarnham, in Dublin, is the overall Age Action Silver Surfer Award winner. Florence who blogs on GrandadOnline.com was presented with his award in recognition of his contribution to community life through his use of technology, at a ceremony this morning in Dublin City University, who co-sponsored the Awards as part of the DCU Age-Friendly University Initiative.

 

Florence, who also won the Golden IT Award as one of the older nominees, has developed a unique relationship with the children in the local Ballyroan Boys’ School over the past three years through the internet. Florence brings history to life for the young students as he researches historic facts about their city and composes the lesson in an email which the children’s teacher helps the students read. The students have learned about what life was like in Dublin when Florence was growing up and events such as what happened to Nelson’s Pillar, an airplane crash in Terenure, and he even organises school tours to cigarette factories. In turn, the children will write back to Florence in old fashioned handwritten letter format which is a wonderful display of generations coming together and learning from each other.  

 

With half of Irish people aged between 65 and 74 having never used the internet and internet use among those aged over 75 negligible, Age Action organises the Silver Surfer Awards to highlight digital literacy issues amongst older people. For those older people who do get online it has the potential to change their lives, as the Silver Surfer Awards demonstrate, with people participating in the digital economy, accessing public services, discovering new hobbies and maintaining an active role in their communities.

  

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, said: “Each nominee here today is an inspiration. They are challenging the stereotype of ageing, showing that there is no barrier you cannot overcome to life long learning as they have embraced new technologies, new ways to communicate and combat social exclusion. Access to the internet has the potential to transform lives, enabling us to keep in contact with family and old friends, or to make new ones, to explore new hobbies and interests, even empowering us to start businesses or to use our skills for the benefit of our communities. The Silver Surfers have not only transformed their own lives but, in doing so, they have shown that digital literacy is an important element of positive ageing.”

 

Professor Brian MacCraith, President DCU said: “These awards are a reminder of the hugely positive impact the internet can have on the lives of our older citizens. DCU is particularly pleased to host the tenth annual Silver Surfer Awards, as they resonate with the values of the Age Friendly University initiative, which was pioneered by DCU, and now has more than 50 member universities worldwide.”

 

Seven other awards were presented during the ceremony:

 

 

1.National Silver Surfer Award winner (and winner of the Golden IT Award)

Florence McGillicuddy 

 

Florence McGillicuddy is 95 years of age and is a blogger from Rathfarnham in Dublin publishing Grandadonline.com. Motivated by his love of history and education, he uses his IT skills to research history and record his own reflections on growing up in Dublin which he shares via email with the children in the local Ballyroan Boys’ School. Bringing history to life for the young students has made Flor an integral part of the school community and fostered a rewarding intergenerational learning experience for all.

 

2.Community Champion Award                                                                          

Margaret Culloty  

Margaret Culloty from Firies Co Kerry is 77 years of age and is the County Secretary of Kerry Community Games for the past 23 years. As the National Community Games requires that all participating children be registered online, Margaret has had to learn how to do this for over 3000 children participating in sporting and cultural events at county level.

Margaret faced this challenge with vigour and is now responsible for the coordination of the online Kerry registration system ensuring that all children are registered for their individual or team events at local and National level as well as getting a web page up and running and a Facebook account. She has been described as one in a million and didn't let new technology put her out of the position of County Secretary.

3.Hobbies on the Net

Paddy McAuliffe, Paddy Tobin and Paddy Buckley

‘The 3 Paddy’s’ from Mallow in Co. Cork have learned how to shoot and edit short films, a skill they are now using to preserve a legacy of memories for peoples’ families to be passed on to future generations. They are documenting the memories of older people in their community, editing in photos or the person’s life and locality, to produce a film. The film covers the person’s life story which can then be shared digitally with the wider community and family members.  To date they have recorded the life stories of almost 30 older people in the region.

4.Getting Started Award

Eleanor Lynch

Eleanor Lynch from Cork was profoundly deaf from the age of 40 to mid 60’s but 14 years ago, thanks to advances in medicine and technology, she had a cochlear implant operation. When she was “switched on” Eleanor had to learn how to hear again with the assistance of this new technology.  It took lots of perseverance, but she mastered it and can now communicate fairly easily. After she mastered the implant technology, she had the confidence to learn how to use a mobile phone and now uses a smart phone like a teenager! The laptop has made living alone a lot easier as she does her all banking and pays all her bills online and does not have to go out on wet cold days. Technology and her own bravery and determination has made an amazing difference to Eleanor’s life. 

5.IT Tutor of the Year Award

Sr. Margaret Kiely   

Sr. Margaret is a Sister of Mercy who worked as a principal nurse tutor for 14 years at the Mercy Hospital in Cork.   Following this she trained as an addiction counsellor in MN, USA. She founded Tabor Lodge - a treatment centre in Cork for persons with alcohol, drug and gambling addictions and it was here that she first saw the need for a computerised system.   Following a few lessons she mastered the PC.   Sr. Margaret observed that a number of staff and residents were struggling using smart phones and computers. She sourced funding for a tutor and initially she ran 10 four-week classes with 8 students per class. She is now a volunteer tutor with Age Action and manages the attendance records and presents certificates at the end of the courses.

6.School IT Tutor of the Year Award

Bandon Grammar School  

The students of the Transition Year class in Bandon Grammar School have been tutoring older learners how to get online. At every lesson, the young TY students teach their older learners something new from how to use Google Maps to downloading music, looking up Government websites which are all sites of great relevance and interest to the learners.

The intergenerational nature of the class creates an energetic atmosphere in which to learn. People have remarked that the school break-time is a favourite where the older learners and younger tutors engage in conversation and swap stories.