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Eat at Our Table: Café run by Ireland's migrant community opens at Christ Church

“It gives out a strong message that you can create spaces for people in Direct Provision instead of waiting.”
Feb 17th 2018, 7:30 AM 20,687 55

FROM THIS SATURDAY, a café will be set up in the outdoor area of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin that’s run by Ireland’s migrant communities.

The project is called Our Table, and began as a pop-up kitchen in 2016 in the Project Arts Centre. It describes itself as “a community-driven, non-profit project aiming to highlight the need to end Direct Provision in Ireland”.

Direct Provision is the government programme that facilitates 4,300 asylum seekers in Ireland while they wait for their applications to be processed. It gives people just under €20 a week for expenses, and houses people in hotels, which doesn’t give them cooking facilities, or the right to work.

One of the founders and director of the Our Table project, Ellie Kisyombe told TheJournal.ie that after their three-month run in the Project Arts Centre, they decided to look for a more permanent residence for the project, to “facilitate change through conversation over food”.

This year we decided to get a space, so we’ll be running a food store at Christ Church every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the foreseeable future.

On those days, a ten-person team of volunteers will work as waiters, managers, and chefs among other jobs, to hand out food for people between 10am and 4.30pm.

“If it picks up we might change it to more days,” she said. From what she had gathered from the number of RSVPs and calls she had received, she was expecting the kitchen to be “highly in demand”, she said.

The idea is to highlight the problems with Direct Provision, that there’s a situation that doesn’t allow people to cook their own food or give people the right to work.

Cooking is very therapeutic. You come home to cook, and you feel different. It’s a way of therapy and to meet new people.

She said this was a “community-driven project” where people of different ethnicities could meet and talk to one another.

“We’re asking people to come along and support Our Table. It gives out a strong message that you can create spaces for people in Direct Provision instead of waiting.”

Saturday evening, the café launch will be held from 6.30pm for invited guests, and will include food and music as well as talks from people living in Direct Provision.

Welcoming the launch the cathedral’s Dean, Reverend Dermot Dunne, said that the marks and signs of a living church community were evidenced in its outreach beyond its walls to the wider community.

“The cathedral’s commitment to engage with those in the Direct Provision system is evidence of just one of many social outreach programmes adopted by the cathedral.

“It is a joy that one of the fruits of this outreach is the launch of the Our Table enterprise. It is good that the cathedral facilities can be used in such a productive and empowering way and I am very happy to endorse this programme,” Dean Dunne added.

Read: Rise in deportations ‘worrying and stressful’ as department denies official crackdown policy

Read: Stephen Rea opens pop-up café aiming to raise awareness about Direct Provision

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Gráinne Ní Aodha

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