In October of 2020 I volunteered with the Abolish Direct Provision campaign. I wanted to give my time to help those experiencing Direct Provision, and I felt that a campaign like ADP, which is founded and ran by those in or previously in DP would be the best route to go. I joined the efforts of the campaign just as they were getting ready for the Christmas Project of 2020 which, as the first year of the Covid19 pandemic, was focusing on hosting a virtual Christmas event with live music and performances as well as getting presents to every single child in DP.
I started out calling people who had registered as donors and seeing what they could give, whether that was buying presents for the children under 12, buying vouchers for the teenagers or even offering up space as an area for other donors to drop gifts off. We made calls all over Leinster, while other volunteers focused on different areas of the country. Soon I was helping coordinate the organisation of the calls as I found the work really meaningful and wanted to contribute more of my time. By November as more volunteers were coming on board, the project was taking off and we created spreadsheets as a means of tracking all the pledged gifts and what area they were in and using this data in line with numbers of children in each county.
The system was a success and in the first and second weekends of December we held gift drop off days in Dublin, where donors were able to come and drop off their pledged gifts in person. These days were busy as we ensured every single present was appropriate and matched the gift guidelines, followed by wrapping them and organising according to county. Throughout the following days leading up to Christmas, volunteers collected these gifts and distributed them across Dublin, Meath Wexford, and Wicklow. Our mission was a success and by the virtual Christmas event, every child had received their gift. I had not been involved in the creation of the Christmas event itself, however I tuned in and had a great time following along all the performances and guest speakers.
Overall, I had a great experience working with ADP. I connected with people outside of my usual bubble which was one of the best parts about it. Another aspect to ADP I was a part of at the time was the Friendship project, and I was connected with a woman living in DP in Monaghan. Being able to build a companionship with this woman over WhatsApp calls and texts was an added bonus to volunteering with ADP. It was a busy few months organising the gifts for around 2500 children, however seeing some of their reactions to the gifts during the virtual event was absolutely worth it. I would encourage everyone to do their part for the people suffering in this brutal system and a campaign created and run by people with personal experience in the system is an excellent way to know your contribution goes to the right places.