SIMILAR aims at fostering integration of migrants through a multi-dimensional approach which includes communication and persons working with them (e.g. educators, students with focus on education and social care, municipal police and volunteers) and with stakeholders in the areas of integration and social welfare. It is important to note that the term migrant in this application also refers to refugees and asylum-seekers.
The project began by collecting information from experts who work with the target group regularly and collect information on their experiences. This included professionals working for the municipalities and federal offices as well as volunteers and educators at the local, regional and national level. This included persons responsible for language learning but also those providing assistance in finding appropriate housing or solutions to other social care needs. To support these responses the partners conducted interviews with migrants who have spent both a longer time in the receiving country as well as not so long time in order to learn about what kind of experiences they have had.
The feedback from these activities served as the basis for the knowledge sharing and capacity building on integration measures targeting migrants which were further developed into a handbook “Awareness raising and empathy training measure for promoting work with migrants”. An additional outcome from the interviews was the toolkit which includes concrete information on initiatives and empowerment measures with information for implementation. The toolkit is a collection and adaptation of existing good practices; this supports the mainstreaming and implementation of already existing measures. The output is designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination of migrants while minimalizing their social isolation by providing high quality, relevant resources in the hands of those who work closely with the target group. In this development the German partner, VHS Cham, had a supporting role and transferred ideas from their experiences with migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers to the other partners in the project.
Cross-Country Analysis Report
Handbook: “Awareness raising and empathy training measures for promoting work with migrants”
Toolkit (collection / adaptation of best practices): “Empowerment of migrants”
The project is innovative in a way that migrants, refugees and/or asylum seekers are given a voice in determining what means are vital in their integration process. This was supported by the interviews from those persons working closest to the migrants. These persons decided what has and has not worked well, what tools were useful and so on.
The innovation includes also targeting new groups which so far had not been directly associated with migrant service. The project focused not only on education field but also social fields, taking into account various target groups working closely with the migrants and having important voice in creating social attitudes towards migration and integration. These groups involved educators, police guards and volunteers. Educators, who consisted of teachers, pedagogues and students of educational science are responsible for shaping peoples` attitudes. We do believe that they have influence on young generations and that there is need to raise and educate people in a spirit of tolerance and deep understanding for other religions, nations and political views.
Police and city guards are responsible for current interventions with migrants, who are very vulnerable group. They need concrete knowledge on how to support migrant integration, how to help them in emergency cases and at the same time how to communicate in intercultural way.
Additionally, the social and educational volunteers are the growing group involved directly in the social and educational activities, there is a need to equip them in knowledge, skills on multicultural approach as well as how they can support and empower the migrants. The representatives of those groups have also different access to the additional trainings and possibilities of improving skills and competences when working with new groups e.g. migrant refugees, e.g. in Germany there is a high need for additional education for volunteers, where in other partners, e.g. in Poland, Hungary, Slovenia the social care, municipal police are facing new challenges related to the refugees’ crisis in Europe.