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The Edmund Rice Schools Response to the Refugee Crisis: Calls for Proposals

On the 8th of September, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, sent an email to all our schools "The Edmund Rice Schools Response to the Refugee Crisis: Calls for Proposals".  In that email ERST requested that "Proposals from you and your colleagues in our schools would assist us in making the Edmund Rice response that circumstances demand.   Please forward your thoughts and proposals to and we will share amongst the ERST community."

Here are the proposals and actions taken by some of our schools that we have received, and that we wish to share with the ERST Network of schools, so that your school can draw on these and offer any assistance you can.

Scoil Colm, Primary School, Crumlin
We welcome the Edmund Rice Schools Trust initiative in looking for proposals to help the refugees in crisis.  We would like to share our plans to support those in need.  We have decided as a school that we will get involved in the GOAL Appeal in conjunction with Topaz.  As a DEIS school, we are conscious of frequently asking our school community for financial donations and like to offer support to various charities by other means where possible.  We contacted GOAL and asked for their advice with regard to supporting the current refugee crisis.  They are requesting donations of blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, underwear, etc, which we will collect at the school.  The collected items can then be brought to any of the participating Topaz garages.  These items will then be flown directly to the affected areas on aeroplanes paid for by Topaz.    Further details can be found on this link:

This is a practical way in which schools can help in a non-financial way involving the whole school community.  

Deerpark CBS, Cork, and the Cork Life Centre proposal

St. Paul’s CBS, Secondary School, Brunswick Street, Dublin
A couple of initial suggestions from staff in St Paul's CBS:

  • Are there any unused buildings that the Trust can offer for housing?
  • Can we draw up a list of essential items needed by refugees and hold a nationwide drop off day in ERST schools?

O’Connell Secondary School, Dublin
Staff here in OCS have suggested some form of clothes collection for the families. Also the idea of basic English language classes for the adults and children has been mentioned.

CBS Ennistymon Secondary School
Having spoken with the staff, students and parents of CBS Ennistymon we would like to make the following proposals as a school response to the current refugee crisis:

  • Education and awareness; that issues around this current crisis be explained and examined in class, allowing students to learn about the issues involved and to express their opinion. This could be dealt with explicitly in a 3-4 class module in CSPE but also cross-curricularly in History, Geography, English, Religion, Art and Music classes. That students are invited to consider responses to this and other crises in the Christian context in Religion class.
  • That where space allows, schools could act as a central depots for the collection of clothes, books, food and other essential items for displaced people. Schools could then link with charities in relation to the transportation of such goods.
  • As ERST Schools following the ERST charter, we could pledge to accept a given number of students with refugee status who find themselves relocated into our area (perhaps on a per capita basis). We are suggesting an ERST scholarship system whereby students would be supported through the provision of uniforms and books and by the waiving of school fees etc. until such time as they or their families become established within their new communities.

CBC Monkstown, Dublin
From the CBC Monkstown Website - Posted September 10, 2015

Hello everyone,
There’s a lot of us appalled by the current humanitarian crisis going on in Syria and Europe at the moment, but it’s difficult to know how we can actively help. Well here’s a way, and it would be great for EVERYONE in the CBC community to get involved and show how much we care about our fellow humans.  Pupils from CBC Transition Year and I are organising a collection of much-needed items. All these collected items of clothing and other basics from people’s houses are to be part of a shipment of items that are destined for Calais this month to help the refugees. It’s an incredible act of basic human kindness.  How can you help? Take a look at the list below, it shows the basic items that are urgently needed for the people that are stranded in Calais (who are mostly men). We all have these items in our houses, either unused, a little bit old or in the back of the wardrobe. Please read the document carefully as there are also listed items which are not needed.  So, fill a few plastic bags, stick them in the car and bring them to CBC on FRIDAY 18th SEPTEMBER 2- 6pm.  I’ve arranged for them to be collected on Saturday morning. Simple! And we get to clear out our unwanted and unloved stuff!  Let’s all get involved and make a small effort – it will make the difference.

Many thanks in advance. CBC Monkstown - (On school website and @CBCTY – please share)

Gaelscoil Sáirséal Primary School, Limerick City
In response to the refugee crisis Rang 6 in Gaelscoil Sáirséal and their teacher Ríona Uí Cheallaigh contacted the Limerick to Calais Group and organised a collection of items to donate to the cause. The pupils discussed their knowledge of the situation and insightfully imagined themselves in the place of the children who have been forced to leave their homes and seek asylum in Europe. We asked parents and pupils to donate items specifically for children. As the donations came in the 6th class pupils put together labelled care packages for children of differing ages. When all the donations had been collected we delivered the bags to the Limerick to Calais group. The bags filled the boots of two cars. 


Scoil Íosagáin Primary School, Sexton Street, Limerick
Scoil Iosagain CBS Primary Sexton Street is in the tradition of Edmund Rice accepting pupils without fear or favour whether they are refugees or economic migrants. We also follow the CBS tradition of welcoming refugees in Sexton Street as we did in 1956 from Hungary. As a result we currently have over 40 new pupils who fit into these categories. There is no need for a new response by ERST schools as the CBS tradition should be welcoming to all. I acknowledge that this is not the case in all ERST schools and the difficulties put in place by some schools towards some applicants is far from the response of Edmund Rice in Waterford when the poor needed education there. The gift of education which can be delivered so well in ERST schools is the vital component in the overall national response to the refugee crisis. Therefore, all ERST Schools should value the opportunity afforded them at this time. The story of 'Black Johnny' from the life of Edmund Rice would be well retold at this time.

Our Board is always impressed by the openness from our local CBS Secondary school to our students, and the sharing of resources between us. This is the model that needs to be furthered elsewhere.

The education of the parent and local communities especially in some areas needs to be addressed as sometimes the 'anecdotal' evidence and language used about new arrivals in an area is not complimentary. I see our school as having a key role in this area and it is something we are reflecting on at this time. The Muslim tradition and religious ethos is also an additional consideration and again we have to be reflective on how to accommodate these with due regard to the strong CBS tradition of devotion to Our Lady and to the spirit of Christ who welcomed all children to Him. This was copied by Edmund Rice and so we should, as ERST schools, follow the same noble tradition and heritage.

So our school remains committed to encouraging ERST schools to be welcoming to students from all communities, supporting the education needs primarily, working to educate communities to the need to accommodate new peoples without fear, and then to accommodate their tradition, when possible, in our schools.

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