International migration has become a major force for social transformation in modern-day Ireland.
Workplaces, local communities and the relationships we have with each other reflect this dynamic process. Without a doubt, the depth and pace of social change Ireland has undergone over the past fifteen years is phenomenal. Change brings many challenges and while it is not that change itself is
problematic it is how it is managed that really counts.
Community work has always sought to support communities, both interest-based and geographical, to strive for equality and inclusion, often in the context of a challenging environment – physical, financial, political and social. Community work as an approach to social change seeks to answer difficult questions about power, identifying who has it, who does not and how it is being used both positively and negatively. Most importantly, community work seeks to create opportunities for communities and groups who are most powerless to have their voices heard and their concerns acted on, and ultimately for them to feel empowered as active citizens and members of society.
This resource guide is designed to recognise, support and reinforce the vital work being led by many community workers throughout Ireland. Through our work, we are aware of the diverse and creative ways in which migrant workers are being supported to access their rights and have their voices heard within local communities and beyond. We are also aware of the work being done to enable communities to adapt to the multicultural nature of their area, and to recognise the collective responsibility and benefits of combating racism and inequality.
Many of the ideas and methods for supporting participation and creating the conditions for empowerment contained in this publication have their foundation in community work practice
developed over decades. It is important for us all to remember our collective capacity and experience in tackling inequality and exclusion, for instance in tackling the racism experienced by the Traveller community, rural and urban poverty and decline, long term unemployment and gender inequality. Ireland is again at a turning point with the economic recession and attack on the equality and social inclusion infrastructure. It is vital, now more than ever, that we find ways to build and strengthen solidarity across all groups and communities within society who are experiencing exclusion, including migrant workers. Community work as an approach and methodology has an important role to play in this process.