The project Empowering Communities in Europe arose from identification of the dangers of growing xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination arising in Europe, and brought together 7 countries and partners, self-selected based on their commitment to support migrant integration, community development and promoting evidence–based policy making in the area of migration. The aim of the project was to deconstruct the process of migrants’ stigmatisation, using the acquired understanding to help communities involved overcome stereotypes and develop counter narratives for more accurate perceptions of migrants and refugees stemming in participating countries in Central Europe.
(1) In the national Give Me Voice Research phase we assessed how hate speech and propaganda arise on fertile ground of economic and security fears in selected communities, and how they contribute to radicalised behaviours both from the settled communities and new arrivals.
(2) Then, engaging community leaders during the Be the Change workshop in Croatia, we adapted the workshop content and gave them facilitation skills to conduct Me-You-We community development workshops, and encouraged dissemination of learning though social action and promoted societal engagement and solidarity.
(3) During the Me-You-We Workshops participants devised and implemented social action on a voluntary basis, they were encouraged to consider working (also) through social media to provide counter narrative to biased perceptions of the migrants.
Be the Change Event and Me-You-We Workshops were based on Active Citizens (AC) methodology developed by the British Council globally and already tested in CE with 100 % of the first series of workshops participants confirming its relevance to their context. The methodology focused on intercultural dialogue and fostering in- and intercommunity understanding and was specifically adapted not only to the aim of the project, but also to address the findings from Give Me Voice research. AC methodology included Appreciative Inquiry, Systems Thinking and Passion about Europe. The first of the Me-You-We workshops was entirely devoted to understanding participants cultural roots thus building self-confidence necessary to enter, in the second workshop, into dialogue with other cultures and culminated in designing and delivering, during the third workshop, joint social action beyond differences and divisions and for the good of all community members.
(4) Finally, at the Exit/Entrance Conference in Sofia, we strengthened the foundations for continued intercultural dialogue and continuous increase of mutual understanding.
The legacy of the project was an international, pan-European network of young activists, potential and emerging leaders in their organisations, communities, municipalities, with ambitions to actively combat stigmatisation of “immigrants” and build counter narratives to foster intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.
Project news and products:
- А list of the events that were organised within the framework of this project
- Exit / Entrance Report: Lessons learnt from workshops and social actions
- Exit / Entrance Conference in Sofia (11-13 June 2018) – photos
- Exit / Entrance Conference in Sofia (11-13 June 2018) – movie screening Facebook event
- Exit / Entrance Conference in Sofia (11-13 June 2018) – Piotr Kaźmierkiewicz presentation
- Exit / Entrance Conference in Sofia (11-13 June 2018) – agenda
- UNITED IN ANXIETY: Post-2015 Public Attitudes Towards Accepting Refugees and Migrants: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia – European comparative research, author Piotr Kazmierkiewicz
- The Wages of Fear: Attitudes Towards Refugees and Migrants in Bulgaria – author Vanya Ivanova
- Social Action: Plovdiv (23.6.2018)
- Social Action: Sofia Hunt (3.6.2018)
- Social Action: The Three Little Pigs (2.5.2018)
- Social Action: Friendly Stories (30.4.2018)
- Social Action: Be COOLinary (Sofia, 27.4.2018)
- Social Action: Jack and the Beanstalk Unite Bulgarian and Refugee Children (25.4.2018)
- Social Action: Be coolinary (Burgas, 21.04.2018)
- Social Action: Italian Culinary Workshop (17.4.2018)
- Social Action: Spanish Evening (29.3.2018)
- Social Action: Martenitsa Workshop (17.2.2018)
- Workshop #BeTheChange in Sofia (2-4 and 9-11 February 2018)
- Open call for applications: participate in a workshop in Sofia and develop a small community-based initiative supporting tolerance between Bulgarians and migrants – deadline 20 December 2017 (in Bulgarian)
- The preliminary results of the national Give Me Voice Research were presented at the AGD UNHCR conference on 30-31 October 2017 in Bulgaria by the researcher Vanya Ivanova (presentation in Bulgarian)
- A Be the Change training for trainers was organized on 15-20 October 2017 in Croatia
- 3 focus group interviews in the framework of the national Give Me Voice Research were conducted in Belene, Harmanli and Sofia in the period June – July 2017 in Bulgaria
Time frame: January 2017 – June 2018
Partners: British Council – leading partner (UK), Romanian National Council for Refugees (Romania), Menedek (Hungary), Institute of Public Affairs (Poland), Centre for Peace Studies (Croatia), People in Need (Czech Republic), Milan Simecka Foundation (Slovakia), Multi Kulti Collective (Bulgaria)
Funding: European Commission, Europe for Citizens Programme