Dublin City officials gathered at the Lord Mayor’s residence last Wednesday to launch a new resource for Ukrainians who’ve arrived in Ireland’s capital – a website or virtual noticeboard.
The website, known as the Dublin City Ukraine Response Community Noticeboard, provides Ukrainians with a “one-stop shop” for services, events and information about living in Dublin. While currently geared toward Ukrainians, the site may expand to support Dublin’s newcomers more broadly.
One of the hardest things about moving to a new country is adapting to the culture of information like how people get their information and knowing what different government bodies do, said Coilín O’Reilly, the Chair of Dublin’s Community Forum for Ukraine.
The community forum, which consists of government officials, volunteers and other stakeholders meets biweekly to discuss Ukrainian refugees locally. The noticeboard is one idea that came from these meetings.
“What this website does is it breaks down the system and gives people easy direct contacts for what they need,” said O’Reilly, who’s also Dublin City Council’s Assistant Chief Executive. “It identifies the problem they have, and it says your solution lies here, as opposed to people going ‘I have this problem, I have to find my own solution.’”
The noticeboard includes sections on health and education, which house links to related services. Another section is on resources for children. The website, which is available in five different languages, also includes information on local events like one this week with Halyna Kruk, an Ukrainian poet.
Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy is hopeful that the site helps people settle into Dublin quickly, make local contacts and even meet Ukrainians that are already here, she told Babylon.
“I suppose the feedback we’re getting is that it’s hard to find information when you come to a new country,” she said. “What are the services that are available, what schools are around, what community and voluntary groups are around? So this is a one-stop shop for all of that information.”
Easing strains on the embassy
Oleksii Tiutiunenko, a consul with the Embassy of Ukraine, has seen the needs of arriving Ukrainians firsthand. Tiutiunenko works with individuals who have document-related requests, including individuals seeking an international passport for an eventual return to Ukraine.
Roughly 70% of Ukrainian nationals who have arrived in Ireland are without an international passport, he told Babylon. Ukrainians seeking help in obtaining the passports make up the majority of the roughly 50 documentation requests that Tiutiunenko fields daily.
The amount of requests the Embassy of Ukraine and volunteer organisations are receiving is too many to respond to, Tiutiunenko said.
Ireland has seen an influx of Ukrainian refugees since the invasion of Ukraine began in February. More than 62,000 individuals have arrived as of November 6, with more than 1,100 arriving the week before.
The site is a “great initiative,” Tiutiunenko said, and he hopes it can provide information regarding things like finding jobs and how to apply for temporary protection in Ireland. Temporary protection is the status that allows Ukrainians fleeing the war to stay in Ireland at least a year.
The virtual noticeboard has the potential to make things easier on the embassy, he said.
“And for us, it would be easier when someone will send us a request regarding some information. I can resend them to this website, this platform as well like many other platforms,” Tiutiunenko told Babylon.
Expanding beyond Ukrainians
The noticeboard also has the potential to expand and cater to other communities and newcomers to Dublin, Lord Mayor Conroy said in a video message on the new site.
“I could see that it could be rolled out for other communities that are already existing in Dublin or coming to our country from a different area,” she said.
The site provides an “entry point” for Ukrainians who may not know where to look for information or do not speak English, said Franzi O’Donnell, the Dublin City Volunteer Centre’s Manager. The centre is the organisation overseeing the site.
O’Donnell encouraged local groups who haven’t already done so to contribute information to the site.
“I suppose as noted before, this website was set up as an initiative of the Ukraine Response Forum,” she said. “But it is there to offer the platform for all the services and organisations that might have any events, any activities, any services that could be relevant, of interest to people newly arriving in Dublin.”
The site will be updated regularly, O’Donnell said, a website that for now is focused on supporting Ukrainian refugees.