Co. Tipperary town honours asylum seekers who volunteer their time to the community

Co. Tipperary town honours asylum seekers who volunteer their time to the community

Some of the residents of Bridgewater House who received certificates of appreciation for their volunteer work in the community

More than 30 residents of Bridgewater House Centre for Asylum Seekers in Carrick-on-Suir have been honoured for their volunteer work for community events and organisations in the town. 

They were presented with certificates of appreciation from Carrick-on-Suir community leaders at a ceremony at the direct provision centre located in the town's former Mercy Secondary School campus on Main Street on Thursday, June 27.

The certificate recipients hail originally from Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe and range in age from four years to.  All are living in Bridgewater House while their applications for asylum are assessed by the Government.

Far from hiding behind the gates of the direct provision centre located in the town's former Mercy Convent Secondary School, these people from widely differing cultures have made huge efforts to integrate themselves into the local community.

Meals on Wheels, Carrick's Foroige Neighbourhood Youth Projects, Carrick on Suir Library, Carrick-on-Suir Day Centre for Elderly, the town's St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Clancy Brothers Festival  and Suir Blueway launch are among  the organisations and events they contributed to as volunteers over the past 18 months. 

During the Bewitching Halloween Laneway Walk Festival last October, for example, Bridgewater House volunteers helped to set up and take down props in the town centre laneways. They helped with stewarding, face painting and acted as live zombie props. 

A Bridgewater House resident was a member of the Clancy Brothers Festival organising committee and acted as the festival's national schools art trail co-ordinator helping to set up and take down the schools arts exhibitions at Carrickbeg Community Hall. Volunteers from the direct provision centre helped out at the Festival's Riverside Fun Day, busking competition,  a children's make and do workshop and other events. 

And the asylum applicants were also busy volunteering at the Suir Blueway official opening celebrations distributing posts, setting up and taking down props, arts, crafts and a music stage, helping out with face painting and live music performances. 

Linda Fahy of the Tudor Artisan Hub, who came up with the idea for the ceremony, told the Bridgewater residents they were truly amazing and the people of Carrick-on-Suir were so fortunate to have them in  their community. 

 "Every year in the town there are many community projects planned and there is an immense amount of work to be performed to prepare, coordinate and carry out these events. 

"It is only with the assistance of local volunteers such as the Bridgewater House community that we can rise to meet the challenge and deliver such a broad programme of events for all to enjoy," she added. 

A special Above and Beyond award was presented to Ashar Anwar Khokhar, a native of Pakistan, for volunteering his time to act as the Bridgewater House Ambassador for Volunteer Participation in Community Projects. 

Linda Fahy said the award recognised Ashar's excellent performance in coordinating all events with community representatives and the endless hours he put in participating in cmmunity Initiatives to ensure all tasks were meticulously completed.

The certificates of appreciation were presented by Cllr David Dune, Tipperary Co. Council tourism development officer Marie Phelan, Clancy Brothers Festival chairman Jim Butler,  Tony Clery of Carrick-on-Suir Business Association, Maura Barrett of Carrick on Suir Lions Club and Linda Fahy of the Tudor Artisan Hub and Clancy Festival Arts Trail.

Read full feature on Bridgewater House in the printed edition of The Nationalist now in shops