REPATRIATION support for a homeless man
Michael, a 52 year old man, originally from Cork, had been living in Sydney since the nineties, losing touch with his family over this time. He didn’t have a valid visa and had been relying on cash in hand work to survive. With tighter immigration and employment restrictions, Michael found it more and more difficult to find work. Eventually he became homeless, chronically unwell, and too frightened of deportation to seek medical help.
By the time Michael approached us he had
- been homeless for almost 10 years
- no identification or documentation
- became chronically unwell
- developed anxiety, especially around authoritative officers including immigration and police.
How we helped
Over several weeks our Caseworker built up trust with Michael and set a plan to help him return to Ireland, including;
- helped him access a flight to Ireland through the International Organization of Migration.
- attended the Department of Immigration with him where he was granted a bridging visa until his flight (allowing him to pass through the airport smoothly).
- encouraged reconciliation with long-lost family members.
- provided food, accommodation and toiletries until he was ready to return.
- worked with the Irish Consulate in Sydney to obtain documentation and a passport.
- brought Michael to the airport and helped him through the check in process.
- Arranged an airport transfer and accommodation in Dublin for the first week.
- Referred to Dublin based Crosscare Migrant Project who helped Michael apply for a disability pension and housing.
Micheal was successful in applying for the disability pension and long-term social housing in Ireland. He reconnected with his family and most importantly, he was finally able to access medical help for his complex range of physical and mental health issues.
The Reluctant Prodigal Son
John was facing the journey of his life to get back home to Ireland, but mental health issues, a broken phone and no cash made it seem impossible that he’d get home to his family at all.
The Irish Support Agency, in communication with his mother and the Irish Consulate in Sydney;
- found John in the International Airport's busiest weekend of the year,
- got him his first meal in over 24 hours,
- supported him through the check-in process, and
- helped him battle his inner fears so he could board the plane with the confidence that the decision was his, and that it was the right one for him.
John got safely home to his family for Christmas, where he has the support of his loved-ones and access to the support and treatment options that he needs.
The weekend before Christmas, John's mother called us to let us know that he had agreed to come home to his family and they’d bought his ticket, but that he was very confused, had no money for food and had gone out to the airport over 30 hours before he was due to board his plane. She didn’t think that he’d get on the plane if someone wasn’t there to help him through the process and she was further upset because she couldn’t reach him by phone. His family had tried to arrange a bed for the night and get him access to food but the distance and lack of communication made it almost impossible to do.
How we helped
One of our team, who had already met John when he’d had some other issues a few months before, went out to the airport and found him in a very disorientated state, hungry, thirsty and he’d lost track of time completely. Some food and a phone call to his mother went a long way to improving the situation. We helped John get through the minefield of the check-in process, baggage allowances and kept an eye on the time so that he knew he was all set to get home for Christmas. It was still a very anxious time for John, as his fears built about the journey and things left undone here. We were able to reassure him that his family would be there to meet him at the other end and that he’d have Christmas at home, to the extent that he was able to head through Security with a lot more peace of mind than how he’d started his long wait in hard, uncomfortable airport chairs.
Not all problems can be fixed with money. Sometimes it’s the presence of someone to look out for you, to be there with you, to point you in the right direction so that you can step forward with an easy heart. We were delighted to hear that John got safely home to his family and the support he needs to face his challenges. It made our Christmas a happier one too.
Details have been changed to protect clients’ privacy.