Safe Haven builds community in Ireland and empowers young people through various youth development initiatives, including sail training, theatre and environmental projects.

We are a not for profit initiative founded in 2015. We came into existence initially to provide sail training opportunities to children and young people (aged from 15 to 21) in Ireland, to enhance integration in Ireland and to facilitate youth development. While this remains a major focus of our work, we have recently expanded into other areas, keeping integration at the heart of everything we do.


We wish to acknowledge the kind support of our major sponsor Callan Tansey Solicitors for 2017:


The Sailing Project "Safe Haven Voyages"

Each of our voyages has a mixture of participants from different backgrounds. We include young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, prioritising those who have experienced the asylum system in Ireland. We offer places to Irish-national participants, often from inner city areas, who would not otherwise have this kind of opportunity. The trainees in each group come together to undertake the experience of a lifetime: a week or more at sea as the crew of a yacht or Tall Ship.

During their time on board the participants learn how to sail a ship and how to navigate in challenging Irish coastal waters, making their own decisions about what course to plot over the week. In the process they learn the vital importance of working as a team 24-hours a day, as they take the helm, raise and lower sails, stand watches, cook for each other and keep the vessel ship-shape. Each group of young people step onto the boat as its passengers and disembark as its crew.

This exciting programme enables the participants to gain much more than sailing skills. They build strong bonds with each other by virtue of a shared experience which in many cases will go on to have a profound influence on the rest of their lives. The young people educate each other about their backgrounds and different cultures and together forge a new vision for their shared futures on the island of Ireland.

Other projects

Safe Haven Ireland has expanded since it's inception in 2015 to fulfil its wider integration aim. We build capacity, connecting other organisations with members of Ireland's new communities to ensure a truly diverse, modern Ireland. We have inspired and facilitated projects in the following areas:

* Art 

* Theatre 

* Climate Change Youth Exchange

In addition to creating our own integration / youth development projects, we actively encourage the young people we work with to get involved in wider Irish society. We act as a facilitator, a bridge, providing information and making connections with the underlying aim of encouraging integration. Participation in our project often results in a ripple effect leading to a greater integration impact. Though our projects integration across other areas organically develops. For example one of our former participants is now an active member of a local rowing club in Cork through a connection he made on board one of our voyages. Another has started playing soccer with a team in Dublin that he was introduced to by one of our volunteers. These are examples of enduring integration benefits for young people that derive from our work.


Safe Haven Ireland's work is guided by a firm belief in openness, transparency and accountability values. These values are incorporated in our integration activities as well in our partnerships and in our presence in the youth development sector.  

Our sailing programme operates with guidance from Sail Training Ireland, the national sail-training body, and we adhere to its safeguarding policies in our work, which are available here.

We recognise that youth development and integration are only attainable when the needs and interests of both young men and women are fully acknowledged. The implementation of a gender equality policy is vital, and we adhere to 2004 Development Cooperation Ireland`s Gender Equality Policy in the formulation of our strategies.

Meet our team

We work in partnership with local youth organisations and migrant charities who nominate the participants for each youth development opportunity, such as Foróige, the CRIB project Sligo, NASC - the Irish Immigrant Support Centre, the Irish Refugee Council, the Immigration Council of Ireland, Dublin City Council international youth club, Swan Youth Centre,  Bradog Youth Services, the Cork Life Centre and the European Youth in Migration Forum (EYMF). 

Safe Haven Ireland could not operate without our committed team of volunteers and we would like to acknowledge the support of those who devote their time and skills to this project:

  • Shauna Gillan - CEO and Founder
  • Samantha Arnold - Fundraising Lead
  • Paula Quirke - Voyage lead
  • Diego Castillo - Project Administrator

We extend our thank you to other team members who assist us in varied capacities:

Greta Keegan; Stella Légrádi; Alina Przybyl; Lye Ogunsanya; Lucia Smyth; Tom Adams; Anna Bates; Dara Flynn; Simon Mac Suibhne; and The staff and crew of Spirit of Oysterhaven

Safe Haven Ireland Executive Committee and Board Members

Executive Committee

  • Shauna Gillan - Chairperson / Director
  • Paula Quirke - Vice-Chair
  • Samantha Arnold - Treasurer
  • Diego Castillo Goncalves - Secretary

Individual Board Members

  • Idriss Drizzy
  • Guelord Mubenga
  • Lye Ogunsanya


We wish to acknowledge the kind support of our sponsors for 2017

* Callan Tansey

* Mason Hayes Curran

* The Community Foundation for Ireland