What is Integration?

Integration is an intercultural process which places rights and obligations on the state, majority and minority communities, to ensure all individuals have the opportunity to participate in economic, social, cultural and political life on an equal basis and without having to relinquish one’s cultural identity.

Integration is something that happens when:

  • People from different backgrounds know and respect each other
  • People from all backgrounds work and live together comfortably
  • Those from all backgrounds and various countries are treated equally by all the people in our city

Gateway to Employment Project for Women

In 2018, Nasc will launch our “Gateway to Employment Project” to support refugee women and family members of refugees in Cork. The project aims to equip women with practical skills, knowledge, and a greater awareness and experience of multicultural competencies, to enable them to integrate more fully into Irish society.

Refugee women often face reduced access to education and training and this in turn hinders their access to the labour market and to further or formal education and training. This project seeks to assist these women in overcoming these barriers through the delivery of intensive individual language and mentoring supports coupled with practical opportunities for learning and work experience.

At Nasc, we conceive of integration as an intercultural process which places rights and obligations on the state and both majority and minority communities to ensure all individuals can participate in economic, social, cultural and political life on an equal basis and without having to relinquish one’s cultural identity. The “Gateway to Employment Project” seeks to assist in equalising the basis on which refugee women access and participate in life in Cork and Ireland.

The practical elements of the course will include field trips to educational institutions, workplaces, and job fairs. A work placement element and volunteering opportunities will also be made available, if applicable.

The course is open to all women with refugee status, subsidiary protection or leave to remain, or any female family member of an individual with one of the above statuses.

Integration Through Learning Project (2011-2013)

Between 2011 and 2013, Nasc ran a similar programme for migrant women. The programme was very successful, with 17 women completing the full course. Not only was the programme a tool for these women to access training, language and mentoring supports, but it also became an important social outlet for many of these women.

Upon completing the course, many of the women reported feeling more comfortable doing things for themselves and more equipped for social, educational and economic situations they encountered.

A woman from Macau in China reported:

“It makes me feel more confident. I am trying to apply for jobs, not just in Chinese. Like in Supermac fast food sales, or all kinds of jobs.  I have a part-time job to replace someone in a Chinese take away.  I deal with the customers.” 

“Now in everyday life I make new friends… Now I have good friends, Irish… I am more confident and happy.” 

A Thai women stated:

“My English is much better.  Before I just listened.  I never read or wrote before in English.  Now I read children’s books.  I go to the cinema and can understand 70% to 80% with my husband. Or my Irish friends. I listen to the radio and television.” 

And a Chadian:

“I used to go shopping with my husband only, now I go on my own.  Before I had to use only a credit card – I could not read the money notes.  Now I use notes too. I can talk to the children’s teachers, and the doctor. I read my children books.” 

Cork City Integration Strategy

Connecting Communities, the Cork City Integration Strategy (CCIS) 2008 – 2011 sets out to positively challenge discrimination and promote an inclusive, intercultural city in which all are valued, regardless of nationality, religion or ethnic background. It sets an agenda for cultural and ethnic diversity to be welcomed and celebrated in the city.  The Strategy was launched in April 2008 by then Minister for Integration Conor Lenihan, TD.

The Cork City Monitoring Group was established to monitor the implementation of the Strategy and has continued to meet on a regular basis since 2008.  The Group consists of representatives from Cork City Partnership, Cork Integration Forum, Cois Tine, Nasc, the Cork Migrant Centre, Cork City Council, the Traveller Visibility Group and the Integration Centre.

In 2010, the Monitoring Group conducted a mid-term review of the Strategy.  The review included: a consultation with members of migrant communities living in Cork; a survey of the general public in Cork; and an update report from organisations with actions contained in the Strategy.

This review allowed us to determine whether the strategies and actions outlined in the CCIS should be re-assessed in the current economic climate, and to ensure that integration remains a policy priority for the various service-providers and decision-makers.

The results that we found particularly striking were that:

  • Racism and lack of social cohesion are very real issues in our city. The survey results reflect widespread concern but also tremendous goodwill.
  • Discrimination is common experience for immigrant and ethnic minority residents, particularly in the field of employment.
  • Awareness of equality infrastructure remains low, particularly among immigrant and ethnic minority residents.
  • Real experiences of racism and discrimination are not reflected in official statistics, as they are rarely reported by victims.
  • The need for more activities to promote integration in Cork City, such as parades, celebrations, local community activities and inter-faith events.
  • That local media needs to be more culturally inclusive plus there needs to be a commitment in the City to challenge racist and negative media coverage.
  • The need for a commitment to promoting inter-cultural awareness as a new reality in Cork City, for example good practice on anti-racism and promoting diversity, to become the norm in organizations.
  • The continued demand for English language classes.
  • The need for improved reporting of racist incidents.
  • The need to safeguard equal access of employment for ethnic minority and immigrant groups.

The majority of the actions identified in the Strategy have now been completed, while some are ongoing and a minority remain to be completed. The Monitoring Group continue to work on actions to promote integration in Cork City and a new Strategy is currently in development. If you or your group would like to get involved in this work, please contact us.

Print the Cork City Integration Strategy Flyer to see and share ideas about what you can do, as an individual.

Cork City Integration Project – European Integration Fund (2011 – 2013)

Nasc was the lead partner in an exciting and innovative integration project for Cork City. ‘The Cork Integration Project: Integration through learning, the arts and Muslim Christian Dialogue’ was co-financed by the European Commission under the European Integration Fund and was supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, Department of Justice and Equality. It was comprised of three constituent projects with Nasc as the lead project.  The other groups involved are Mayfield Community ArtsCork Midsummer Festival and Cois Tine.

The project aimed to break down the barriers to integration, encourage positive intercultural interactions and empower migrant women to engage with the wider community in a proactive way. The project was successfully completed in February 2013.

IMG_1054Integration through Learning:
Nasc provided a free course for legally resident migrant women from countries as diverse as Macao, Malaysia, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The course focused on improving English language acquisition but participants also learned practical skills for living in Ireland, including an introduction to the education and political systems in Ireland, registering to vote and tools to engage with their communities. Participants also worked on interview and CV skills and the women even began investigating how to set up their own businesses and cooperatives. During the summer participants developed their business ideas and met with local enterprise board amongst others in the autumn.

  • To read media coverage of the Integration Through Learning Graduation in February 2013, click here.

Integration through the Arts:

As part of this multi group approach to integration, participants in Creative Connections were supported by Mayfield Community Arts and Cork Midsummer Festival. They completed a 2-year HETAC accredited course in arts, crafts and community arts facilitation. This group facilitated a range of arts based intercultural workshops including public workshops for women and children in the Old Fas Building, The Lord Mayor’s Pavilion and open workshops during Culture Night.

The participants also staged two interactive events as part of Cork Midsummer Festival in 2011 and 2012. Home is Where the Art Is in 2011 explored global traditions of hospitality and created a temporary home where people were welcomed and invited to create art. The participants are staging an interactive event as part of Cork Midsummer Festival, 2012. Hungry Tea in 2012 was a site-specific performance work focusing on stories, secrets, beauty, laughter and desolate places. The 16 participants in the project, from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Burma, Australia, Moldova and Ireland worked with award-winning British artist Mark Storor to create this year’s unique event.

“…Mark Storor, who doesn′t so much rehearse theatre in a traditional manner as create an alchemical process”
The Guardian

Hungry Tea was reviewed enthusiastically in the Irish Times, the Irish Times and the Irish Theatre magazine,

“One appears to capture the spirit of this captivating show: “How lovely to go to something that asks more questions than it answers,” it says. Those questions will linger, long after one has closed the door and said goodbye”
The Irish Theatre Magazine – 30th June 2012

Creative Connections has been invited to take this show to both New York and Berlin, we are currently seeking funding and this group hopes to continue working collectively after the life time of the Integration Project. As the group are brought together by a belief that participatory and collaborative arts engages both the artist and the audience, encouraging the exploration of human experience and potentialities and ultimately conveying complex messages which are often difficult to put into words. This has been identified important by the Third country participants as migrants often lack the opportunity to communicate their voice and experience due to language barriers and societal exclusion and art can challenge negative messaging and stereotypes, creating a dialogue which intersects politics, arts and community

Muslim Christian Dialogue:
Cois Tine ran a series of inter religious dialogue workshops aiming to increase awareness, understanding and community integration between members of Christian and Islamic faith communities. These took place in Cork, Limerick, Dublin and Waterford. It was aimed at members of the public and those identified as having significant impact on integration including representatives from schools, colleges, hospitals and local business. There was a very positive response to these events and they were well attended by members of both faith communities. Speakers included Islamic scholars, such as Sheikh Dr Umar al Qadri (a member of the Council of Imams and founder of the Al-Mustapha Islamic Education and Cultural Centre) and Christian theorists like Chris Hewer. The project published a resource in Winter 2012 looking at the Muslim and Christians faiths, how both faith communities approach to inter religious dialogue and how members of each communities can work together to increase tolerance and understanding and show the benefits of harmonious diversity in Cork City.

This project is co- financed by the European Commission under the European Integration Fund and is supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Department of Justice and Equality.