NASC will play an integral part of a city rising

CEO of Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, Fiona Finn, talks about their new premises on Paul Street, reflects on where their journey began, and reveals plans for the future
NASC will play an integral part of a city rising
Lord Mayor of Cork Mick Finn officially unveils the new Nasc premises on Paul Street.

AN exciting new chapter began for Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, when the Lord Mayor of Cork Mick Finn formally opened our new premises in Paul Street, the heart of our city.

Nasc is now in its 19th year. Our story began in 2000 — a few months after the system known as Direct Provision was established —and asylum seekers were dispersed to Cork.

We were founded by the Mercy sisters, the SMA fathers and group of activists, essentially to respond to the direct needs of asylum seekers living in Cork.

We have changed and evolved over the intervening years, we work across a number of new areas including refugee community sponsorship, migrant children and young people, integration and social inclusion and have a project working with refugee women. But we have stayed true to our founding principles and place the needs of our migrant communities at the core of our work.

We are deeply embedded in Cork and are very proud of our roots and are honoured to work with our cities refugee and migrant communities.

We are also delighted to welcome people in our fantastic new premises, which places us and the people we work with in the heart of our city.

I would like to thank his excellency Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley for giving this great premises and I know we will be good custodians of this wonderful historic building.

We would also like to acknowledge our funders including the Tomar Trust, HSE, Ireland Funds, Tusla and the Department of Justice, without whom none of our would be possible.

Nasc as an organisation has always been dynamic, we have always strived to evolve, develop and to respond to the changing needs of the communities we serve. We strive to deepen our impact on both an individual and a systemic level. To put us on a clear future path the Nasc staff and Board undertook an in-depth strategic planning process to develop our three-year strategic plan.

In order to reflect on the overall direction of our work over the coming period, we took one critical focus: how can Nasc work best to enable all migrants, including those fleeing in the current crisis, to access justice and human rights. The answer was found by examining our strengths and weaknesses as well as emerging opportunities and challenges.

We concluded that our greatest strength, at both a beneficiary and systemic level, lay in the extraordinary expertise within Nasc and in our current operating model - the delivery of a high-quality legal information and advice service to over 1300, people annually across a range of critical issues including family reunification, residency, citizenship and securing residency and access justice and rights for asylum seekers.

It also provides a strong evidence base to effect positive social change for some of our most vulnerable and marginalised communities.

Our direct service is also the aspect of our work that is most needed and valued by our constituency.

Our focus then turned on how to strengthen and deepen this work and how to make the most effective use of the rich evidence base that it provides. Nasc is not and has never been a single-issue organisation – this is challenging at times, but it is also our strength – our doors are open to all regardless of their immigration status. Or service, in and of its self - delivers transformative change for our refugee and migrant communities but critically it also gives us a clear strong evidence base to achieve positive social change. It is also the conduit through which all our other work and programmes flow.

This was the building block that helped us to plan and shape and build the future strategic direction of the organisation and set clear goals under 4 key areas:

1. Realising Rights

2. Achieving Systematic Change

3. Societal Inclusion

4. Organisational Development

Nasc has never been an organisation to do things by half things by half and oftentimes times we don’t make things easy for ourselves – that is not the Nasc way! So, we also took this opportunity to revisit and revise our vision, mission, logo and develop a new website to better reflect our work. We wanted out logo to be more reflective of name – Nasc, the Irish word for ‘link’ – and our ethos, that we link migrants and refugees with their rights, and I think that Piquant have achieved this.

The decision to develop our new site, went beyond a mere update or a cosmetic change. It was important to us that we make the site more accessible and user friendly. Of course, the core of our work remains the face to face legal advocacy service, but our work must also reflect the needs of our service users. Our new website offers mobile and tablet friendly information on a range of immigration and asylum related issues, and importantly, it also offers self-advocacy tools like template letters and how to guides to support people nationally and locally to navigate important applications like family reunification, citizenship or visa applications.

If you look at the website, I think that you will agree the thing that really brings our site to life are all the amazing photos of our clients and families past and present who very willingly agreed to be photographed and pictured for our the site and have our deepest thanks appreciation. These pictures give our site real heart and warmth which is a true reflection of what Nasc is as an organisation.

Cork City has also undergone and is undergoing some really positive changes and I am really taken with the tagline “A City Rising is a Beautiful Thing” we in Nasc will work with our migrant and refugee communities to be an integral part of our rising city – ensuing that nobody is left behind and that Cork is an open, equal and welcoming city – a truly safe harbor. See www.nascireland.org

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