Social Integration of Refugees through Education and Self Employment | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën


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Social Integration of Refugees through Education and Self Employment

Priority Axis

Technological and Social Innovation

Specific objective

Social Innovation

Lead partner

University of Greenwich

Start Date


End Date


Project budget

4 880 802

ERDF amount

2 928 481

ERDF rate



    Common challenge

    Over 1.2m refugees arrived in Europe in 2016, 147,815 within the 2 Seas region alone (R1) creating pressures and challenges on the host communities. A population surge creating a high costly demand on public purse €10,000p refugee/year to meet the needs of the new arrivals and integrate them into the local economy (R2). The regions struggle with the challenges of refugee family inclusion into education and economic independence exposing a population of lost economic potential. The regional school systems fail to effectively integrate refugee children characterised by missed school years, facing an alien education system and ill-informed teachers. Fragile refugee children find it difficult to integrate into the system, absenteeism is high, parental involvement with school is low.  Partner research shows an appetite for refugee enterprise but exposes a gap due to the limitations of partner specialist knowledge and experience to deliver. Actions to JS RBO summarised Section D3. 

    Main Achievements

    The Social Integration of Refugees through Education and Self Employment (SIREE) project aims to improve the social and economic integration of refugees and migrants in the 2Seas area. The project has 9 partners in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and the UK working together with refugees and migrants to create and implement actions to enhance their inclusion. The partners include universities, municipalities, charities, schools and refugee support groups. The knowledge of the local context is of great benefit and the bringing together of the partners through this project aids cross-border cooperation, for example where partners have shared techniques used to engage refugee and migrants in the education process through a toolbox. 

    In education, a report was published: 'Transcending Educational Boundaries' that provides a contextual overview for the regions and explores barriers and facilitating factors. Project partners then created 40 learning communities which are groups of parents and students with migration backgrounds along with teachers. These groups have have explored the obstacles to educational integration in the specific school context and created actions to improve inclusion in the education system which are being acted on now.

    128 refugees and migrants with interests in starting their own business have started a programme of entrepreneurial support including mentoring, workshops and online support via a website. The website leads new entrepreneurs through the steps needed to start their business and gives them region-specific guidance on legal and financial structures in the country they are residing in. The website also allows entrepreneurs to test their knowledge and track their progress via a tailored action plan and Skills Analysis. Through the action plan and skills analysis we will be able to follow up with each entrepreneur to measure the impact of the SIREE project on their goals and business ideas.

    The project partners are communicating the findings of the project so far. There have been multiple events, including in the UK an event on World Refugee Day and Human Rights Day, engaging 250 people. In Belgium there have been lots of workshops and focus groups on the learning outcomes of the project and project members have brought their expertise to educational events on diversity, education and integration. In the Netherlands, the project was showcased during Europe week in Middelburg and in France, students attended a presentation.



    VIVES University College

    Medway Plus

    University College Roosevelt

    City of Mechelen


    Municipality of Middelburg

    Knowledge Center ARhus Roeselare

    Learning Shop West Flanders


    URL / Download

    Mobile friendly website providing a virtual incubator with steps to: self-employment for refugees to create a new business

    Theme: Social economy or entrepreneurship - Social services
    Type: Service
    Target: Citizens