The initiative “Young Migrant Voices: a training course for boosting participation of young migrants in decision-making processes at local level” was organized by ADYNE Netherlands in partnership with DYPALL Network, and was implemented in November 2016. We wrote about it on our website here and here.
Eva Lindberg and Anna Beata Ekström, were participants in this training course, and they communicated with DYPALL Network in a more comprehensive way what this experience meant to them, and also the impact on the target groups they work with.
Eva Lindberg works in the municipality of Karlstad (Sweden) with youth (age 18-21) who came unaccompanied and who has been living in municipal shelters until they turned 18. After 18, the municipality supports this youth with apartments, contacts with schools, contacts with the civic society, contacts with healthcare providers and gives psycho-social support. The municipality continues to provide this support in their integration, until the age of 21.
Anna BeataEkström works in the organization Save the Children Sweden in projects for unaccompanied children and youth. An important part of the work is to gather the unaccompanied children and youth’s voices about their situation through Meetingpoints, which are workshops that are held, where afterwards the gained knowledge is also spread to municipalities and other stakeholders, to allow a bettersupport system working towards improving their situation.
On the impact that this training course had on their work, they shared the following:
Karlstad Kommun is very interested in trying to find more waysto cooperate with civil society in order to be able to give more support to the target group.
On the other hand, through the work in the Meetingpoint held in Värmand, Save the Children has developed a platform for discussion and exchange between different organizations, involved in activities for unaccompanied children in Värmland. This has generated ideas on how to make the target group itself owners of the questions and needs that are explored in the Meetingpoints.
Just to provide a general view: Swedish municipalities have both big social work responsibilities, and adequate resources and knowledge in supporting different vulnerable groups. But they gain a lot whenever they find strategies to cooperate with the civic society to be even more effective in finding and meeting vulnerable groups. There is now a great need in finding strategies for this kind of cooperation, especially in the work with refugees and unaccompanied children. Both civil society and the municipalities have been reaching out and forming networks and partnerships to strengthen support to these groups.
It was in this context that Save the Children and Karlstad Kommun had a chance to work together in trying to find better ways of supporting unaccompanied children within the municipality. The training course in Odiliapeel was a good opportunity to explore these possibilities together and to take a common first step in finding ways to future cooperation.
During the training course, we had access to useful information for our work, both through our daily encounter with the target group as well as and in the joint work with other organizations. We also met people from all over Europe who worked with either young migrants or refugees, as professionals or volunteers.
They shared experiences from those meetings, as well as the training courses studies in the topic, which allowed greater understanding of the importance and advantages of cooperation between civil society and local authorities and different strategies to reach a cooperation that profits both sides as well as the target group.
As all participants were able to form a project plan, to pitch it and discuss it together, thoughts about how to continue and develop the work with unaccompanied children could be tested. This gave a lot of inspiration and motivation to start applying the gained knowledge.
Save the children has, over the past two years, been working with self-organization among adult refugees as a way to reduce the risk of idleness and mental illness in the asylum process and also to start the establishment process from the first day in Sweden. Connected to the self-organization, there is a network of cooperating organizations (from civic society and local authorities), that includes the self-organized target group. This work has been very successful and contributes to mind-shift within the society where the work with asylum-seekers shifts from having a above perspective of taking care to having an inside-out perspective of participation and partnership.
The project plan that Save the Children launched after the Training Course was “Crea Diem – self-organization and strategic cooperation for unaccompanied children”.
Karlstad Kommun wants to find more effective and constructive ways to cooperate with the civic society and to develop the work with unaccompanied children to enhance their chances to stay in Karlstad Kommun, find work, establish themselves, find meaningfulness and contribute to society. To do this, Karlstad Kommun wants to create a platform for cooperation between different parts of the municipality and the civic society with a communal local where activities, support and information for the target group could have a collocation and a “one-way-in”-concept for the target group. This project is called “Meetingpoint Galaxen”.
Together, those two projects could create a meeting point for unaccompanied children, where they can find and get information and support from organizations involved in their establishment process. The meeting point is also a place where the involved organizations forms network in order to find more effective ways of working together with the target group. Within the meeting point, unaccompanied children, can organize themselves around questions they find important. Together with the networking organizations, they can act upon those questions and, with support, themselves create activities that will improve their wellness and enhance their establishment process.