Volunteering

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Building a Resettlement Network of European Cities and Regions- Experiences of the SHARE Network 2012-2015

“Either we enable migrants to become part of the community, or we will witness tensions and a further growth of xenophobic movements. SHARE brought together cities, towns, communities, churches and migrant associations to promote and coordinate a real response to the needs of integration.  I am proud of it.”

Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative for Migration and President of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC)

ICMC published its report “Building a Resettlement Network of European Cities and Regions- Experiences of the SHARE Network 2012-2015”, being the culmination of 4 years of the SHARE Network learning.

Since 2012, the SHARE project has built a European resettlement network of regions, cities and their civil society partners with the objectives of 1) promoting refugee protection and resettlement and a culture of welcome and 2) improving planning and coordination for refugee reception and integration in Europe.

SHARE has expanded the EU Resettlement Network (ERN), engaging over 1,200 regional and local contacts already active in resettlement, contemplating resettlement projects or planning advocacy for resettlement in their respective countries. The project spanned Europe, engaging stakeholders in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Romania and the United Kingdom. SHARE has sought to develop a network of actors to share best practices in resettlement between experienced actors and actors in emerging resettlement countries or countries considering resettlement, facilitate refugee integration locally, exchange information and learning in a formalized fashion, advocate for resettlement and share creative and contextualized local resettlement solutions.

With continued loss of life in attempts to cross the Mediterranean, developing adequate channels for the orderly admission of refugees to Europe must be at the core of strategies to address asylum and migration challenges in the European Union. Resettlement is a significant tool in this respect and the SHARE project sought to promote resettlement and improve resettlement outcomes.

Resettlement allows for ahead planning and coordination leading to better reception and integration of refugees. SHARE learning suggests that all countries can develop successful resettlement programmes when properly planned and coordinated among stakeholders and that a European-wide response, involving all countries and regions and municipalities (from large cities to small villages), is essential. 

The SHARE  network position is that the same kind of planning and integration services as are applied in resettlement should be applied in cases of  relocation or any other mechanism to distribute refugees across countries or territories.

A number of key policy recommendations emerged from the SHARE project that have the potential to improve and strengthen resettlement, relocation and refugee reception and integration in Europe which include 1) Non-discrimination among refugees of the same country in granting of status and service provision; 2)  Recognizing the need to strengthen reception and integration services in those regions and municipalities receiving larger number or specific (vulnerable) profiles of refugee; 3) The need for increased attention to refugee placement decisions in a manner sensitive to refugees’ special needs and potential, particularly with respect to integration into the labor market; 4) Strengthening multi-stakeholder cooperation between regions, municipalities and civil society in providing reception, welcome and integration services; 5) Including regional and local actors in financial decision-making (AMIF) and programming; 6) Promoting grassroots initiatives and volunteerism in providing welcome and integration services; 7) Prioritizing the use of Personalized Integration Programs (PIPs) and including employment as an important benchmark in such integration plans.

We hope that this summary of policy reflections, tools and resources and recommendations produced by the SHARE network will support and offer guidance to regional and local actors implementing reception programmes in Europe and be a useful policy tool for a broad range of actors working in the field of asylum and migration in Europe.

Preparing for Syrian Resettlement webinar

The number of Syrian refugee admissions will be steadily increasing in the coming year. This webinar, lead by Liyam Eloul, will help your agency become better prepared to serve the particular needs of this population. Topics covered include:
- Background and demographics of Syrian refugees;
- Syrian refugee expectations;
- Potential challenges for Syrian resettlement in the U.S.;
- How to prepare your staff and communities for Syrian resettlement; and
- Who might be helpful partners.

Liyam Eloul is a trauma therapist with a specialization in complex emergencies and urban refugees in the MENA region. Liyam received her postgraduate diploma from the American University in Cairo on Psychosocial Interventions for Refugees and Forced Migrants, and her Master's Degree in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver. She has worked with refugees both prior to and following resettlement in the United States. Liyam has worked largely internationally with INGOs over the past decade, including in Egypt, Syria, Oman, Ghana, and Jordan, and has published on the impact of culture on the experience of psychosocial distress, as well as program development. In Syria she worked with UNHCR Damascus, piloting a psychosocial program for the organization as the monitoring and evaluation focal point. Liyam is currently a psychotherapist trainer and clinical supervisor with the Center for Victims of Torture in Amman, Jordan.

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Amir's Volunteering - A guide on involving young asylum seekers and refugees as volunteers. Experiences, ideas and recommendations

The background for this guide is a cooperation project between the Danish Red Cross and the British Red Cross, supported by the EU. The project, which ran from 2011 to 2013, has looked at young asylum seekers’ and refugees’ participation in volunteering and has studied why it does not appear to be widespread among this group, what the benefits of such participation might be for both the young people and the volunteer organisations.

Amir's volunteering - a study on volunteering as a pathway to social inclusion for young asylum seekers and refugees

Could more be done to strengthen young asylum seekers’ and refugees’ inclusion into European society?
Could participation in voluntary service provide a tool to achieve this, and what would be required to make this a reality, both practically and structurally?
These questions form the core of the project entitled Volunteering for Social Inclusion (VSI) - a social experimental, comparative study of voluntary service as a possible way towards young asylum seekers’ and refugees’ social inclusion, financed by the EU and implemented in a bilateral cooperation between the Danish Red Cross and the British Red Cross during the period from September 2011 - September 2013.

This report presents the results of the VSI study of the experiences of young asylum seekers and refugees as volunteers in a Danish and Scottish context. To a large extent, the topic is seen from the young people's own perspective, based on their own considerations, thoughts and experiences. The overall opportunities and barriers faced by young asylum seekers and refugees during social inclusion though voluntary service, identified in the report, will relate to a broader European context. The report will conclude with a number of recommendations for both EU institutions and individual EU Member States.

Welcome to Europe! A comprehensive guide to resettlement

 

This publication is an outcome of the joint IOM, UNHCR and ICMC project ‘Linking In EU resettlement – Linking the resettlement phases and connecting (local) resettlement practitioners’, co-funded by the European Commission via the European Refugee Fund.

This new edition of Welcome to Europe covers all aspects of global resettlement needs, processes, policy and partnerships, focusing on the ongoing growth and development of resettlement in Europe, as follows:

Chapter 1 – Resettlement and international protection

Chapter 2 – Global resettlement

Chapter 3 – Refugee situations in focus

Chapter 4 – The resettlement process: from identification to departure

Chapter 5 – Resettlement in Europe – rising slowly but surely

Chapter 7 – European resettlement programmes

Chapter 8 – Building a new life in the community: approaches to reception and integration in Europe

‘Welcome to Europe!’ underscores the life-saving role of resettlement, and contributes to the promotion of resettlement in Europe as one component of a comprehensive and durable approach to protecting refugees. To submit your contributions and reflections on the publication, please contact Sophie Ngo-Diep at communications.europe@icmc.net or start a discussion in the Community of Practice.

A “First Buddy in the United States” Awaits Refugee Children Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

PHOTO CAPTION - Terry Bliznik (far left) spends time and money to show kindness to refugee children staying at The Best Western O'Hare Hotel, IOM’s partner hotel in Chicago, Illinois, which is used to overnight refugees in transit to final destinations in other cities in the United States.

A “First Buddy in the United States” Awaits Refugee Children Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

By: Niurka Piñeiro, IOM Senior Press Officer and Spokesperson for the Americas

The Best Western Hotel at O’Hare airport, just outside Chicago, has been hosting newly-arrived refugees from all corners of the globe for more than 20 years.

Terry Bliznick, the Head of Housekeeping, has worked at the hotel for 28 years, so she has seen thousands of men, women and children pass through the premises. 

“They are kind of nervous to come to the United States, leave their country and start a new life.  They are quiet.  I make sure the rooms are ready when they arrive.  I make sure they are settled in.  I make sure they have their breakfast and lunch ready.  I am here to help them,” recounts Ms. Bliznick.

But she has gone way above and beyond the scope of her work by taking on the mission of providing a toy to each refugee child; for most it is their first toy.

“I noticed that the children didn’t have anything.  We as Americans don’t realize that we throw many things away.  And so I go to places and collect toys, these are very good toys, nothing wrong with them.  The kids love them!  I go see friends who give me toys or donations; I visit the Salvation Army, flea markets, garage sales, etc.” explains Ms. Bliznick.

Many times Ms. Bliznick uses her own money to purchase the toys.

Maria Rowland, Director of Sales, Best Western at O’Hare chimes in: “This woman has a big heart.  These children are her children.   She always tries to do something special for the children, especially if they’re crying.”

Ms. Bliznick is very active in The Promise Program, created by the hotel's management company, Hostmark Hospitality Group, to protect the environment by encouraging and challenging each member of the organization to think and act “green”, pursuing earth-friendly solutions and engaging in meaningful community-building and outreach efforts.

A few months ago, Terry suggested that the Promise Program could collect and give toys to refugee children staying at the hotel.  She started by purchasing toys with funds she donated and collected from other Best Western employees, but when she saw the children’s delight, she decided to continue the initiative indefinitely.

“I get joy out of it, so I continued it.  This makes me feel good.  I like to do that for the children.  I can donate money to any organization, but it’s not the same thing as me giving it to them,” adds Ms. Bliznick

Chicago is one of five Ports of Entry used by IOM* for newly-arrived refugees resettling in the United States; others are Los Angeles, Miami New York and Newark. At each Port of Entry, IOM contracts a hotel to provide overnight accommodation to refugees who cannot make their connecting flights to their final destination. 

The Best Western O’Hare is the hotel used by IOM for refugees arriving in Chicago.

Ms. Rowland explains the process: “We get notice from IOM once a week as to the number of people arriving.  Normally they stay only one night.  We make sure we have rooms available for them.  We use our shuttle to pick them up at the airport and the next day we take them back to catch their flights.  We set up breakfast for them in a private meeting room so they can feel comfortable and not be nervous about seeing so many other people.  We always try to provide breads, juices, milk, eggs, and other things that they will enjoy eating.  We have someone always looking after them at breakfast to make sure they have everything they need.  IOM always lets us knows their food requirements, so we order special dinners for them; usually it includes rice, vegetables and chicken.”

Thousands of newly-arrived refugees spend their first night in their new country at the Best Western O’Hare.  And most families have children.

“You have to see their faces when they get the toys; they grab them and hug them.  They become children.  Children should be children.  If they don’t have toys, they just stand there like statues.  They’ve never had toys.  I tell them this is your first buddy in the United States.  Some of them are shy, so I ask an IOM staff member to give the child his/her toy; immediately the other children come running to get their toys.  I get satisfaction from seeing them,” adds Ms. Bliznick.”

“Today we are expecting 16 children.  And tomorrow morning after breakfast Terry will give them their toys,” says Ms. Rowland.

Hostmark has started collecting toys amongst the staff to send to Terry to distribute to the children. 

Since the program began in late February, more than 300 toys have been provided by this remarkable woman to refugee children.

*For more than 60 years, moving refugees to begin new lives with dignity and respect in a safe and orderly fashion has been and continues to be a fundamental purpose and priority of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

IOM was founded in 1951 to assist in the resettlement of Europeans displaced in the aftermath of World War II.  In the last decade alone, IOM has organized resettlement movements of 892,243 refugees from 186 locations around the world.

IOM works closely with governments, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), non-government organizations and other partners.  IOM resettlement services include: Case processing, Health Assessments, Pre-Departure Orientation, and Transport..

For more information on IOM resettlement assistance please visit: http://www.iom.int/cms/en/sites/iom/home/what-we-do/resettlement-assistance.htm

Carlow Rohingya Resettlement Programme

This research report, on behalf of the County Carlow Development Board, aims to provide a systematic assessment and evaluation of the Carlow Rohingya Resettlement Programme. Data was collected to explore the opinions and inputs of relevant stakeholders in the area in order to provide useful feedback about the effectiveness and value of the project. It aims to qualitatively document the key learning from the programme, to highlight areas of success and achievement and to indicate areas in need of greater attention. In addition, it aims to assess the current level of need of the Rohingya community and to make recommendations for the future development of the Resettlement Programme based on the main findings of the research. It is intended that this document act as the first comprehensive account of all of the initiatives that took place in the first year of the Carlow Rohingya Resettlement Programme as well as contextualising the project within the most recent and relevant social framework.