Welcome to the brand new website of CESCA (Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance)!!! CESCA is an alliance of 18 community and voluntary organisations and is supported by the HSE Social Inclusion Services in Cork. We work in an innovative and collaborative way to address issues of disadvantage in Cork city and have a shared commitment to social justice. The alliance was established in 2014 to work together across the nine equality grounds and a tenth ground of socio-economic status. For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our about page.

We are very excited to have this new platform as a way of sharing with you news about the work we are doing to support marginalised and disadvantaged communities in Cork city. We also hope to share regular updates about our work, advocating for change, so that Cork is a city that provides a good quality of life for all while supporting a strong and sustainable community and voluntary sector.

Covid-19 and CESCA

CESCA has over the past six years worked together to progress social justice issues and share our collective knowledge to better support the communities we serve. However, since March 2020 this country and Cork city have faced significant challenges in responding to the Covid-19 crisis and in implementing the necessary restrictive measures to help contain the spread of the virus, the likes of which we have not faced before. This has resulted in significant challenges for many of the communities we support and indeed for CESCA organisations themselves in trying to find new ways of responding to the needs of communities, while adhering to the necessary lockdown measures.

However, what emerged from this crisis was the strength of the interagency working that has happened in response to the crisis. Statutory and community organisations have come together across Cork city to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are protected and supported at this time. In both Cork and nationally we have seen the vital and core role the community and voluntary sector has played in reaching and ensuring that isolated and vulnerable members of society got the support and care they needed. In Cork this meant that homeless communities were supported to find temporary accommodation, meals on wheels services and the delivery of care packages were extended to reach more people than they have ever reached before, virtual and online supports blossomed as organisations found new ways of delivering support to communities.

Some CESCA members were represented on the national Community Champions Programme making sure that the community and voluntary sector in Cork had the resources and the information needed to continue supporting the most marginalised communities during the crisis. Others worked nationally to highlight the concerning conditions that migrants were facing in Direct Provision centres and that the Traveller community were facing also, during the crisis. All members worked tirelessly to make sure their communities had as much information and support as was possible during the period of strict lockdown measures and beyond.

It is our strong belief that this type of interagency working both across CESCA members but also across the city can and will continue well beyond the crisis we are still facing.

Concerns Emerging

However, as we face into 2021 and the prospect of a vaccine, there are still some very real concerns emerging for the members of CESCA.

  • Increasing needs of marginalised members of society

As an alliance of organisations, we support a variety of marginalised communities including but not limited to members of the traveller community, refugees and migrants, homeless communities, people with disabilities, communities living in the most deprived parts of Cork city and victims of sexual violence. We have seen the impact that the lockdown has had on these communities.  While efforts have been made to ensure people have access to support and information, we are also acutely aware that the needs of our communities have in many instances been exacerbated during this time. Indeed, the inequalities that many face in terms of their living conditions, poverty, access to housing, access to health care including mental health and access to childcare and family support have in many instances been thrown into sharp focus during the Covid-19 emergency.

  • The digital divide.

As many members and wider services are faced with the need to move many of their supports and training offers online, we are becoming acutely aware of those who do not have access to digital devices or the skills to utilise technology where it is available. These risks causing further inequalities in terms of access to training and support, particularly for the communities who need it most.

  • The sustainability of the community and voluntary sector

Another real concern emerging from CESCA members and the wider charity sector is the impact that the Covid-19 emergency and anticipated economic impact will have on the sustainability of the charity sector. The Charity Regulator recently found that 54% of charities surveyed were concerned that their charity may be unable to continue providing services for more than 6 months. Given the new and increased needs of many communities since lockdown, increased expenditure to meet Covid-19 lockdown requirements and the huge reduction in fundraising opportunities, this is a very real concern for us too at CESCA.

These are some of the themes we also covered in our recent Equality Day held on Monday December 7th entitled Equality in a time of Covid. Do watch this space for a full write up on the discussions we had.

Across CESCA we will be working hard to ensure that these and other issues emerging now and in the future are addressed in a way that is reflective of the needs of the communities we support. We will keep you updated on our progress and the work we are doing here but also across our Twitter and Facebook pages. We look forward to hearing from you with any thoughts and feedback and to working across the city to proactively progress the social justice agenda.