Fáilte Isteach was originally established in 2006 by the Third Age Foundation in response to the difficulties that migrants were experiencing in their daily lives as a result of a lack of English. The first centre opened in Summerhill, Co Meath. It is a unique project which utilises the skills, talents and expertise of volunteers and harnesses their desire to contribute positively to society and make a difference by providing conversational English classes and local information for migrants. Materials and resources are based on real life situations and scenarios, and are aimed at helping migrants to integrate into Irish society and community life. Fáilte Isteach promotes the concepts of social inclusion, community development, active citizenship, equality, recognition of volunteers and anti-discrimination.
In 2010 CWP established Fáilte Isteach projects in Wicklow and Arklow.
Since then more than 60 classes have been held in Wicklow welcoming up to 80 students with the help of up to 20 local volunteers. A total of 14 nationalities have been catered for including: Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Chinese, Ukrainian, Swiss, French, Slovakian, Brazilian, German, Czech, Romanian, Saudi Arabian, and Egyptian. In Arklow ………………………….
The levels of English have ranged from beginners (needing basic vocabulary) to advanced students who required more grammatical skills. Where possible beginners were tutored on a 1:1 or 2:1 student tutor ratio and more advanced students were accommodated in larger groups to stimulate conversation and increase confidence.
Fáilte Isteach also provides a local information service as the coordinator alerts students to upcoming CWP, VEC courses and training, as well as other local information of interest and support. Local agencies and services also occasionally present to the classes. Celebrations usually take place at the end of the Christmas and summer terms. Entertainment for the celebrations has been provided by local musicians, young Irish dancers from the Travelling community, and singers and actors from the Active Retirement Association. There is always a multicultural feast at the events and certificates of outstanding attendance are presented to the students at the end of the summer term.
Fáilte Isteach has also participated in the Coláiste Chill Mhantáin’s Multicultural and Diversity days and celebrated with them on their being awarded the Yellow Flag. The Yellow Flag Programme provides a practical series of 8 steps that brings issues of interculturalism, equality and diversity into the whole-school programme and allows schools to apply them to the day to day running of the school. It works with students, staff, management, parents and wider community groups so that issues of diversity and equality are not merely seen as “school subjects” but can be understood and taken outside the school setting into everyone’s personal lives. Arklow Fáilte Isteach is now involved in supporting the Arklow Community College towards the Yellow Flag Award.