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23 March 2021

Ireland: The Role of SICAP in Supporting New Communities


The Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) is the Irish Government’s primary social inclusion programme, implemented nationally across 51 Local Development Companies (LDCs). It aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality in Ireland, through supporting communities and individuals via community development, engagement and collaboration. It offers both group sessions and one-on-one individual support in the areas of well-being and personal development, education and employment supports.

This report explores the role that SICAP plays in addressing the barriers to social inclusion that are experienced by members of new communities in Ireland, as well as how the programme contributes to integration of members of new communities in Ireland. The research was conducted by Pobal’s Monitoring, Analysis and Outcomes Unit on behalf of Department of Rural and Community Development, and also includes feedback from staff of six LDCs.

Key findings:

  • 14% of SICAP clients belong to groups of disadvantaged migrants, asylum seekers and refugees;
  • Members of 'new communities' are less likely to live in disadvantaged areas and more likely to live in a jobless household; be at risk of homelessness and experience transport barriers;
  • Many experience trauma and mental health issues often associated with seeking asylum;
  • Each of the new community groups have different socio-economic characteristics with different levels of education, and are more likely to be economically inactive due to legal restrictions;
  • Tailored support is delivered to asylum seekers and refugees in particular, to help progression to employment and self-employment. However, differences were noted in the types of job occupied by members of new community groups. Asylum seekers and refugees were more likely to progress into lower paid jobs in the food, drink and tobacco production sector;
  • LDCs use different approaches, recognising that groups are not homogenous and factors such as nationality and cultural background play an import role;
  • SICAP referred members to other services for additional support, e.g. local employment services, education and training;
  • SICAP provided spaces for new communities to meet new people and develop social connections through dance and music, providing opportunities for the groups to celebrate their cultures and interact with locals.

The report findings indicate that SICAP is strongly aligned with national and international integration frameworks. It includes strong examples of good practice, specifically contributing to five key factors of integration; employment, education, access to services, social connection and political participation.

Report recommendations:

  1. Promote SICAP’s role within the wider sector working with new community groups;
  2. Recognise that asylum seekers face specific or unique challenges and barriers to social inclusion in Ireland and develop strategies to enable SICAP to better respond to their needs;
  3. Identify and agree best practice approaches, and develop relevant guidelines within the programme;
  4. Deliver capacity building to SICAP implementers; 
  5. Reflect on resource requirements.

Read the report online here.

The Role of SICAP in Supporting New Communities
(2.2 MB - PDF)


Pobal’s Monitoring, Analysis and Outcomes Unit
Geographic area
Contributor type
National governmental actor
Original source
Posted by
Teresa Buczkowska
Country Coordinator

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