Nasc launches Integration Report - We are Cork: Stories from a Diverse City
Embargoed: 29th September 2022
Nasc are delighted to announce that we are launching our report on integration in Cork City on Thursday 29th September 2022. We are Cork: Stories from a Diverse City features interviews with twenty-four participants originally from eighteen countries across the world. We hope that it will act as an oral history and a platform upon which to build future integration actions.
In the last 22 years Ireland has become home to over 535,475 migrants or people of migrant background from over 200 different countries across the globe and Census 2016 showed that Cork City recorded the largest increase in its non-Irish population across Ireland. Nasc were delighted to secure funding through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (2014-2020) in 2019 to work on an integration project for Cork City. The project was also supported by Cork City Council and by the HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.
Fiona Hurley, Nasc CEO notes: “The publication of the report marks the culmination of a three-year project that was disrupted by Covid-19. The pandemic made us pause and reflect on our own plans. Covid-19 showed us the importance of community and having networks to rely on; through our own work we saw the contribution that migrants to Cork were making to their own communities during that time. We decided that we wanted to showcase the very real, lived experience of migrants to Cork City and to give migrants an opportunity to talk about integration in their own words.”
About the report
Of the twenty-four final participants, seven had lived in Ireland for twenty years or longer, eleven had lived in Ireland for between eleven and twenty years and six had lived in Ireland for ten years or less. This allowed us to capture the different experiences and needs of those who had lived in Ireland for over two decades versus newer arrivals to Ireland.
The participants reflect on their own integration experiences in Cork and their reasons for moving to Cork, from fleeing persecution, to finding employment in Cork or joining a spouse. Participants shared moving accounts of high and low points in their lives in Cork including direct experiences of racism and challenges and successes in their own professional lives.
Some of the key themes of the report include a desire to make social connections, accommodation and housing, cultural life, racism and discrimination, employment and under-employment, under-representation in political life and direct provision and international protection. These themes are explored in more detail by author Cecilia Amabo in the introduction to the report.
Ps. Dickson Aribasoye spoke of frequently being the target of racist abuse of the streets when he first arrived in Ireland, but he believes that with the increased diversity in Cork City, things are changing for the better, “I have lost count of how many times I got abusive words on the streets. I can’t tell you how many times people would use words like f**k you coward, go back to your country, you are not welcome here, you do not belong here return to your country and so on. The streets were not very safe for us and but now I am happy that things are gradually changing compared to then.”
Rosario Balmaceda Zuniga spoke of being an experienced lab technician with ten years of experience but was unable to find work in her field. “I came to Ireland with a BA and ten years of working experience as a lab technician and yet I am unable to find a job in my field.”
Another participant however, noted that she had received support to further her career as an artist in Ireland. Already a successful artist in Pakistan, Amna Walayat received grants from the Visual Artists of Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland that allowed her to build her career in Ireland and exhibit her work regularly.
Other participants spoke of their time in direct provision and the decision to leave their countries to seek safety in Ireland. Two participants spoke specifically about the feeling of experiencing ‘stigma’ while in direct provision. Others spoke of their initial sense of safety on reaching Ireland and how their initial feelings of relief and joy faded as they waited for years for a decision on their case.
Fiona Hurley concludes: “We hope that this publication provides a snapshot of the diversity of Cork City and the strength and resilience of our new communities. We Are Cork: Stories from a Diverse City shows how integral migrant communities are to the fabric of our city. The report shows that there is still a lot of work to be done - particularly in tackling racism and discrimination and under-employment however, there are also plenty of positives in people’s experiences of Cork. Overall people felt a sense of safety in Cork and believed that it was a good place to have their homes and raise their families.
Outside of larger structural changes needed around access to accommodation and dismantling direct provision, we can also see how individual acts of kindnesses or solidarity from neighbours or strangers can really help cement people’s sense of belonging in Cork and can stay with them for years. Each of us individually can also be part of making Cork a more welcoming place and a safe harbour for all.”
Nasc will be launching the report on Thursday 29th September 2022 at Millennium Hall, Cork City Hall.
- Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre (Nasc) is a non-governmental organisation based in Cork City. Nasc is the Irish word for ‘link’. Nasc works to link migrants and refugees to their rights.
- A full copy of the report is attached. It is embargoed until 29th September 2022.
- This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020 and is supported by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and Cork City Council.
- Registration for the event is available via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/launch-of-we-are-cork-stories-from-a-diverse-city-tickets-423137143587
Media Contact: Fiona Hurley, CEO
Tel: 087 104 3284