November Lunchtime Talk

Wednesday 10th of November

November Lunchtime Talk – Intercultural Competence Training: The Case of an Irish, Not-for-profit, Community Based Organisation for the Homeless in the Republic of Ireland

Date: Wednesday 24th of November

Time: 1pm

Meeting Registration – Zoom


This presentation describes an ethnographic study utilising participant observations and eighteen group interviews to explore the challenges that face staff in a not-for-profit homeless service provider in the Republic of Ireland called Focus Ireland, in their support of clients who are culturally diverse. This is a timely study, given the significant increase in individuals not originally from Ireland who avail of homeless services. This presentation explores a number of themes, including: challenges related to supporting customers in the semi-public and private spheres such as understanding the ways customers seek privacy or the varying childrearing practices customers might employ; the difficulty staff have in supporting families with diverse family structures and the manner in which this impacts on decision-making, power relationships and the nurture of children; the difficulties staff have in combatting racist behaviour or discrimination by customers themselves, neighbours and private landlords; and the language barrier staff sometimes face, when interacting with customers who speak English as a second or additional language. This presentation will also describe the delivery of two four-hour training workshops in intercultural competence. These workshops were designed as a response to the challenges that Focus Ireland staff face in the provision of an appropriate and effective service to customers/clients who are culturally diverse.


Dr Martin Toal, Dublin City University..

Martin Toal is a lecturer in both English as a second or other language (ESOL) and intercultural studies in the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University Ireland. His research interests include issues pertaining to intercultural communication and competence; education and training. He has experience living in culturally diverse contexts and has volunteered as an intercultural communication trainer in Focus Ireland.


Niall Crowley, Values Lab

Niall Crowley is an independent equality and human rights consultant, working at European and Member State levels, including in Ireland. At the current moment his work in Ireland has focused on implementation of the public sector equality and human rights duty, underpinning a planned and systematic approach to equality and human rights in that sector. This work has included some projects on cultural diversity and homelessness and the equality and human rights issues that pertain. Prior to this he was chief executive of the Equality Authority for ten years from its establishment in 1999. Before that he worked in civil society with Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre.