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
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.