Update from the Connect Project
The Connect Project is Nasc’s Migrant Youth project. Coordinated by social worker, Susan Mackey, the project works with about 70 children and young people each year. The project focuses on those who are or have been in the asylum process or children from a migrant background who have been in care. The project works with young people on a range of issues from immigration status renewal, registering residency, securing identity documents, accessing education and securing safe accommodation. Connect aims to provide a wrap-around service that responds to the individual needs of each child or young person accessing the service.
For the majority of young people we meet each year accessing education is their most important goal. For the Connect Project this can mean ensuring that a teenager entering second level education gets additional education supports outside of school, submitting grant applications for third level education or raising funds for those who don't qualify for any financial support in accessing further education.
"August and September each year are the busiest months for the project as we try to find funding or apply for funding for aspiring students", explains Susan Mackey.
"We've been really fortunate that donations from the public as well as from funders have allowed us to help some young people to realise their dream of going on to third level education. St Vincent de Paul deserve a particular mention for being incredibly helpful. However, some of the barriers are structural. A child who has lived in Ireland and been in the care of the State for most of her life and is legally resident may find out after they've sat their Leaving Certificate that because the nature of their residence permit, they do not qualify for the SUSI grant."
The range of life-experiences of those using the Connect Project has been diverse and varied. Susan informs that some young people have been in the Irish education system since primary school, others have been part-way through degrees in the countries before fleeing to Ireland and others had their formal education interrupted at a very young age.
Despite these obstacles, the Connect Project has been hugely successful. September 2019, saw some really positive outcomes including:
- Two young people in the asylum process were granted Sanctuary Scholarships for Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and University College Cork (UCC) respectively;
- One young person successful applied for a grant under the Pilot Support Scheme (grant for asylum seekers);
- One young person who had been in care was enabled to enrol in third level on reduced fees;
- One young person in the asylum process was assisted to find an internship in an IT company;
- One young person, formerly in care, achieved a scholarship to study in Trinity College Dublin;
- Four young people assisted with practical supports to support their enrollment in UCC;
- Ten children and young people given assistance with transport and learning supports to facilitate access to education.
Nasc’s Connect Project is funded by Tusla – the Children and Family Agency and St. Stephens Green Trust.