The project Empowering Communities in Europe arose from identification of the dangers of growing xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination arising in Europe, and brings 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 is 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 will assess 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 will adapt the workshop content and give them facilitation skills to conduct Me-You-We community development workshops, and encourage dissemination of learning though social action and promote societal engagement and solidarity.
(3) During the Me-You-We Workshops participants will devise and implement social action on a voluntary basis, they will be 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 will be based on Active Citizens 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 focuses on intercultural dialogue and fostering in- and intercommunity understanding and will be specifically adapted not only to the aim of the project, but also to address the findings from Give Me Voice research. AC methodology includes Appreciative Inquiry, Systems Thinking and Passion about Europe. The first of the Me-You-We workshops is entirely devoted to understanding participants cultural roots thus building self-confidence necessary to enter, in the second workshop, into dialogue with other cultures and to culminate 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 will strengthen the foundations for continued intercultural dialogue and continuous increase of mutual understanding.
The legacy of the project will be 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:
- Call for volunteers #BeTheChange @ Burgas – TimeHeroes (in Bulgarian)
- Call for volunteers #BeTheChange @ Burgas
- 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 Chance 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