Gateway Women’s Project
The Gateway Women’s Project is for migrant and refugee women who need support to access education, integration and employment opportunities. We particularly welcome women experiencing isolation or social exclusion who wish to learn English in a supportive environment. The project is funded through the Sustainable Cork Fund. The Sustainable Cork Fund was created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Cork Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund
How we work - more than an English class
When Nasc first set up the Gateway Project, we were aware that there were a lot of refugee women who struggled to find a place in their communities after their arrival in Ireland. Lack of access to affordable childcare, or lack of fluency in English often deterred women from accessing formal education or trying to find work or even getting involved in community activities. While this meant that migrant and refugee women often felt excluded – it also meant that there was a huge reservoir of untapped skills in our community.
“When we look at the women who are taking part in the project – the diversity of skills is quite extraordinary. We have women who have postgraduate degrees to women who had previously worked as mechanics. There are also women who haven’t engaged in formal education in decades but would like to set up their own businesses in Ireland." Claire Mackey
In addition to the classes provided through the programme, each participant receives a package of supports tailored to her own specific needs and goals which may include identifying supports from childcare or eldercare to assistance with precarious housing. The project is coordinated by social worker Claire Mackey. Claire is joined by a team of migrant and refugee women who teach the classes.
“I am proud to be part of an organisation that empowers migrant women, stand firmly for their rights, and give them the opportunities they deserve.” Nadia
“It's a privilege to be part of the project, as a migrant woman, I can relate to the feeling of isolation and displacement our participants can feel. Being able to offer support and facilitate migrant women in their efforts to integrate has been very rewarding.” Kiren
Since March 2020, Gateway has moved online to ensure that women can continue to be supported in an inclusive but socially-distanced environment. We continue to offer multiple levels of English language classes, one-to-one tuition, employment and further education supports, CV advice and mentoring. Our programme has expanded to include conversation classes, cookery, stress management and mindfulness.
“It has been great taking the English classes in Nasc. I started the English classes last year and it has been fantastic. Now, I have the confidence to go to many places without help.”
Last year (2020) 36 women engaged in the project. Despite the pandemic, 3 of our participants found employment. We were delighted to see so many women progress to higher and further education - with 4 women enrolling in college or universities and 4 women engaging in further training. We'd also like to congratulate one of our participants who won a scholarship to attend university.