Chicago Irish Project Allows Students Work with Older Immigrants

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

NUI Galway has partnered with the 'Chicago Irish Project', an initiative designed to improve the quality of life for Irish-born older adults living in the Chicago metropolitan area. Students from NUI Galway's M.A. in Social Work will be offered the opportunity to carry out their work placement in Chicago, supporting older Irish people who may be vulnerable, feel isolated or live alone. Representatives of the Chicago Irish Project will be in Galway from 18-19 November to meet with students and staff of the M.A. in Social Work. The full-time master's degree is run over two years and includes two 14-week fieldwork placements, which can be undertaken in Ireland or in selected sites in South Africa and the US. The metropolitan Chicago area is home to a very vibrant group of Irish born older adults who are dedicated to the preservation and celebration of their Irish heritage in America. While the most visible older adults benefit from social networks formed through existing cultural centers, the growing concern is for the unmet needs of older people who may have limited mobility, or may have lost those social connections. The Chicago Irish Project was established by the Chicago Immigrant Support Center in conjunction with Wellsprings Personal Care, the Chicago-based private home care company. Marguerita Mc Govern is Practice Learning Co-ordinator on NUI Galway's M.A. in Social Work: "The work placement element of the M.A. is a critical part of the course and we like to choose the best partners possible for our students to work with. There has been a long synergy between Chicago and Galway, which was formalised in 1997 when the two became twinned cites. The fact that NUI Galway social work students can now support older immigrants in Chicago, by casework and groupwork methods, will be of huge benefit to all involved". By visiting Galway, the Chicago Irish Project also hope to raise awareness of the project in the West of Ireland, in an effort to reach out to people living in the region who may have elderly relatives in Chicago.
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