Project budget4 880 802 €
ERDF amount2 928 481 €
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.
The project aims to improve the social and economic integration of refugees in the partner regions and wider 2 Sea area by co-creating and introducing new demonstrations to increase the engagement of refugees in the education process and to improve the economic independence of refugees through self-employment. It will tackle the key societal challenge of social exclusion by increasing the access to education and self-employment through the methodology of co-creation. In education 40 new learning communities will be co-created resulting in: 10% increase in parents’ involvement in the education of children, 20% increase in pre-school children attending school, 10% increase in adult education. 450 teachers better equipped to support refugees as a result of the new training course developed. Co-creation will be used to generate 50 new refugee businesses, generate 40 new jobs (with the potential of 516) and 4 new refugee business networks to support long term enterprise development.
- Demonstration actions of how a co-creation model can be used in schools to increase student and parent involvement. It will benefit refugee parents and children from pre-school to secondary school plus adult learners.
- Demonstration teacher training courses focusing on the integration of refugees and/or non guided minors in education using the co-creation model for the benefit of educational professionals.
- Demonstration actions to help refugees valorize their entrepreneurial skills and create a new business for the benefit of refugee entrepreneurs and the municipalities.
- Demonstration guide to the social and economic integration of refugees with recommendations on implementation into education system and developing refugee entrepreneurship, benefitting wider 2 Seas regions.
- Mobile application website for the benefit of refugee entrepreneurs to start a business.
- Refugee business networks benefitting both refugees and municipalities.
Cross border approach
The project builds on expertise which exists in insolation at regional level e.g. LP in entrepreneurship and PP2 in education. It combines strengths at a cross border level and together with the refugee observer partner organisations (OP2, OP3, OP9 and OP11) will create and validate new knowledge in the demonstration models faster than would otherwise occurred or not occurred at all. The scale of this cross border cooperation saves time in recruitment but also increases the impact, transferability and durability of project results. The partnership involves municipalities, universities, private sector, local government and refugee organisations who would not have normally worked together. Cooperation also provides access to a transnational pool of specialist knowledge stretching beyond individual boundaries where a refugee entrepreneur can benefit from access to entrepreneurial experts to solve business problems and advise of best solution at a cross border level, not normally available
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.