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

    Refugees and migrants have long experienced negative media attention but this increased with over 1 million people arriving on European shores in 2015. In response, SIREE (Social and Economic Integration of Refugees through Education and Self Employment) aims to highlight the value that migrants bring to society, instead of the cost. The project looks at the value a family unit brings when it is better integrated into the education and entrepreneurial systems in their new home countries of France, Belgium, The Netherlands and the UK. Co-creation is essential in this project – ensuring that actions are designed in collaboration with the people they impact.

    Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of much activity, much had already been achieved and partners worked hard to support the project beneficiaries in a virtual world.

    In education, 48 ‘Learning Communities’ (groups of parents, students and school representatives working together) were set up to discuss inclusive educational environments, with over 450 meetings so far. Activities included additional swimming lessons, inclusion of parents in school activities and guides to the school for new pupils with a migrant background. 2 new programmes have been created for student teachers to follow, using insights from the Learning Communities.

    The work within entrepreneurship saw over 100 individuals create action plans to develop and test their business ideas, with 6 months of support through mentorship, training and meetings. 35 new businesses were registered. A website designed to teach newcomers about starting a business was created in three languages and has been used by over 500 people.

    The learnings and successes of this project, due to partner collaboration, are being turned into an e-book and dissemination guides to help organisations who would like to replicate and understand the tools used to enhance social integration. The project partners are communicating the findings of the project so far. A new video series, #SIREE in Action is highlighting many of the individual impact stories of the project beneficiaries, with over 5000 views so far.

    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 education during the COVID-19 crisis.



    VIVES University College

    Medway Plus

    University College Roosevelt

    City of Mechelen


    Municipality of Middelburg

    Knowledge Center ARhus Roeselare

    Learning Shop West Flanders


    URL / Download

    Demonstration teacher training courses focusing on integration of refugees and/or non-guided minors in education using the co-creation model

    Theme: Social economy or entrepreneurship - Social services
    Type: Method/tool
    Target: Schools and training centres - Universities and research centres

    Demonstration actions to help refugees valorize their entrepreneurial skills and create a new business.

    Theme: Social economy or entrepreneurship - Social services
    Type: Strategy/action plan
    Target: Citizens - Local, regional and national authorities

    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