Cork asylum support group has to find new premises


A support group working with thousands of asylum-seekers and other immigrants in Cork is facing into an uncertain future as it seeks a new premises and funding for additional staff to ensure it can maintain its services for new arrivals in the city.

NASC, which provides support services for asylum-seekers, refugees as well as other immigrants in Cork city and county, will have to vacate its current premises at St Marie's of the Isle school on Sharman Crawford Street in the city in the middle of next year.

NASC co-ordinator, Ms Gertrude Cotter explained that the group had been due to leave the offices at the end of the year after the owners, the Sisters of Mercy, advised them that the convent complex is to undergo refurbishment.

Ms Cotter explained that the group would need somewhere with a minimum of 1,200 square feet which would include one big office and a training room as well as three other offices - all in a city centre location to ensure accessibility for those seeking its services.

"We got good news recently in that we've received €40,000 from the European Refugee Fund which will pay for the rental of a premises, but we do need extra funding to expand our full-time staff.

"As it is, I'm the only employee, everyone else works in a voluntary capacity.

"We particularly need funding for a legal support worker - at the moment we have barristers, solicitors and academics providing advice on a voluntary basis, but there's a huge amount of follow-up work to be done in each case and we need a full-time person doing that," she said.

She said NASC requires around €350,000 to provide a proper service to those needing assistance, and while the group is about to benefit from the recruitment of two people on Community Employment schemes in January, it needs to expand its full-time staff.

"For non-governmental organisations working in the field of immigration, there is no designated source of funding from the Government," said Ms Cotter, adding that it is a British-based charitable foundation, the Rowntree Trust, which pays her salary.