Sanctuary Mask Initiative

Cork Migrant Centre, managed by Dr Naomi Masheti, have been busy since lockdown began, making sure the most vulnerable in the community are being looked after. Last week, the Sanctuary Mask Initiative (SMI) began with the aim to empower skilled seamstresses to sew hygiene masks for people living in Direct Provision Centres and other vulnerable populations in the community, including the elderly in nursing homes.

The production of the masks is coordinated by Olga Voytenko, a seamstress and resident of Kinsale Rd Accommodation Centre. She is being assisted by other women who are skilled seamstresses and given a wage for their labour. The SMI is designed to harness the strengths of people living within the Direct Provision system, recognising their agency in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

The masks are being delivered across Cork with the help of Naomi Masheti, Siobhan Allen (Nano Nagle Place, Ministry manager) and other Cork Migrant Centre volunteers. With each delivery is an information in a variety of languages, contain information about the proper use of masks along with guidelines from the HSE and the World Health Organisation.

The initiative is supported by Cork Migrant Centre, Better Together, Nano Nagle Place, UCC University of Sanctuary, UCC Feminist Society and Failte Refugees Societies. To find out more information or donate to the SMI, follow the link here or email

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