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In January 2022, the Irish Research Council announced that Dr Rachel Hoare, in collaboration with Spirasi, was one of the recipients of its New Foundations awards. The aim of the research was to understand, affirm and improve the befriending experiences and integration opportunities of refugees and international protection applicants participating in Spirasi’s Befriending Programme.

Research began in February and consisted of a several focus groups and a highly enjoyable creative arts workshop. Overall, over 30 befriendees and befrienders took part in the research.

Rachel’s presented her findings thematically. Some of those findings included:
- Befriending as part of the holistic approach to recovery
- Helping with integration into Irish society
- Importance of a trusting and confidential relationship
- Combatting against loneliness and protecting against suicide
- Practical support
- Relationship building and support for the befriendee
- Reciprocity and mutual kindness

Significantly too Rachel identified eight recommendations from her research:
- Increasing the scope and reach of the befriending programme
- Raising awareness of it
- Conducting a review of the delivery methods and timeframe of the befriending training
- Organising regular social events for groups of befrienders and their befriendees
- Setting up a mentoring/peer support service for befrienders
- Conducting a review of the optimum amount of information about potential befriendees which should be provided to befrienders
- Introducing the expressive arts into activities designed to build befriending relationships.

The event was well attended both in-person and online. Special thanks to the staff in the Long Room Hub for their assistance prior to and on the day of the event – it was a wonderful venue to launch this important piece of research for Spriasi.

Research Report

Live Event Replay