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This week, Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support Project welcomed a delegation from the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of their diaspora engagement study visit to Ireland. Project Leader Sarah Owen and Policy & Outreach Officer Niall Foster were honoured to present on our work supporting Irish citizens at all stages of their migration. The meeting proved a productive exchange of practical insights into the ‘behind the scenes’ realities of delivering welfare supports to members of the global Irish diaspora both leaving and returning to Ireland.

Through innovative initiatives like the Emigrant Support Programme, Ireland is a world leader in diaspora relations. Ireland and Lebanon, both with populations hovering around 5 million and large diasporas (Lebanon’s diaspora is an estimated 15 million, 7 million of which are located in Brazil), made for interesting comparison.

Expanding Horizons

Since our founding in the 1980s as an emigrant advice service, outreach has been a core part of what we do. In the decades since, we have been privileged to take part in many of these exchanges, each time emerging energised by opportunities to share best practices and enhance our collective capacity.

Thursday’s meeting proved no different. Although our outreach initiatives are typically directed toward the global Irish community, this particular visit was arranged by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Euromed Migration, and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development with the goal of examining the Irish model of diaspora relations and its potential applicability in other contexts. Our sincere thanks to Dr. Martin Russell of Global Diaspora Insights and Kingsley Aikins of the Networking Institute for their work on this visit.

As was the case with Policy & Outreach Officer Niall’s networking trip to Germany this past November, this meeting was indicative of our increasing efforts to expand our outreach horizons, especially when it comes to making connections with stakeholders in regions historically less associated with Irish migration.

Bottom Line: Nothing Without Community

Our mission would be impossible without outreach. We are beyond grateful for the many connections and partners (117 in 2023 alone) that together form a comprehensive global network of support for Irish citizens everywhere.

Outreach also proves critical for the people we serve. Networking and meeting new people can help emigrants cope with homesickness, and start to build a home away from home. Equally, returnees’ transition back to Ireland can be eased by reaching out to connections, old and new (our Returning to Ireland blogs dive deeper into this).

If you are interested in collaborating or are looking to connect with global Irish community near you, our Irish diaspora directory is a great place to start. Our door is always open too: get in touch here or by emailing irishdiasporasupport@crosscare.ie. As the Irish proverb goes, ‘ar scath a cheile a mhaireann na daoine’ – under the shelter of each other, we all live – we are nothing without community.

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