AVAIL – “Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and lifeskills” (No. 776175)
Project implementation period: 12 February, 2018 – 11 February, 2020
Project partners: British Red Cross (leading organization), Latvian Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, Irish Red Cross, under the lead of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
The general objective: to contribute to the smooth integration of refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) through piloting, learning from, and embedding proven and new models of work that are based on participatory, peer and community approaches.
The project is implemented in the UK, Italy, Ireland and Latvia, the learning is shared at European level, under the lead of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The project aims to: develop peer connections’ support between RAS; develop social inclusion between RAS and host communities; build capacity of service providers and public authorities and encourage the media to take into account the voices of RAS; and to gather and share learning.
The project contributes to the EC’s objective to develop innovative actions to increase third country nationals’ participation (RAS here) through:
- educational and social activities and cultural life (peer to peer approaches, lifeskills training, educational events);
- the volunteering sector (peer RAS, community buddies, refugee ambassadors);
- media professions (through training RAS to speak up with the media and sharing RAS’ personal stories) and decision making/consultation and representation frameworks (refugee ambassadors, RAS input into partners’ and public authorities integration strategies where possible).
Educational events for RAS and host communities in Latvia
The Latvian Red Cross organises educational interactive events between RAS and receiving society. These events include cultural events for learning about local habits, social integration activities, discussions, etc.
Informative materials will be produced and will be shared with RAS to help them integrate in the receiving society. These materials will cover the following topics:
1) Employment rights;
2) Health and social assistance services;
3) Education in Latvia;
4) Activities of Non-governmental Organisations in Latvia and participation in them.
In addition, in Latvia buddy projects is piloted to link RAS with members of the local community. Newly arrived RAS are offered a volunteer “buddy” in their local community. The buddy is a volunteer who provides practical guidance, opens doors to local networking, and cultural and linguistic interpretation easing the way into the society and community. Buddies and RAS are paired based on gender, age, common interests, etc. That way RAS are introduced to their new environment and create social connections. Moreover, the host community buddy learns about the life story of the refugee or AS, increasing their understanding towards RAS. Following the refugee crisis, there has been a spontaneous movement of support towards RAS. The buddy project helps to channel some of this good will and help local communities get to know RAS and learn their needs within their own community. The pairs of buddies and RAS are reimbursed to attend some activities together such as entrance tickets to public cultural events, transportation, snacks, etc.
Project Manager for the Latvian Red Cross: Ms. Agnese Trofimova, e-mail: email@example.com, phone. + 371 67686312
More information about activities in all partner countries you can find in the webpage of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation (IFRC) HERE!
Within the project LatRC, by cooperating with several professionals released educational materials, which would be helpful to asylum seekers, refugees and Third-country nationals.
On 24 January 2020 within the international project “AVAIL – Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills” Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) organised a closing event “Intercultural Kitchen”.
Project manager Ms Agnese Trofimova presented the information about all the activities, results and lessons learnt during the project. Videos created by all project partners in other countries during the project were demonstrated.
Refugees and asylum seekers who participated in event had the opportunity to receive educational brochures about such topics as NGOs, Education, Volunteering, Employment Rights in Latvia etc. Full list of educational materials in Latvian, Russian, English and Arabic are found HERE.
Participants together with the project team discussed their two-year experience in AVAIL project.
Thanks to this project, LatRC had the opportunity to organise many different integration activities for refugees and asylum seekers, which helped them to get to know more about the Latvian culture and integrate into the local society.
These activities were important especially for families with children, because they helped them to forget a little what they have been experienced of becoming refugees and asylum seekers.
During the event refugees and asylum seekers together with their mentors made, presented their national dishes.
Project is funded by the European Union.
On 8 January 2020, refugees and asylum seekers went to the first indoor amusement park in Latvia “Jungle“. Everyone had a great time enjoying inflatable attractions and ball pool.They were happy to spend the day full of joy and being together.
After the amusement park they went to LIDO, where they could share their experience and memories of New Year and enjoyed traditional Latvian meals.
Activity was organised within the international project AVAIL – “Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and lifeskills” (No. 776175).
Thanks to LatRC social mentors who helped organize the event!
On 3 January Latvian Red Cross organised a training “Social work with people of different ethnic groups”. It was done within international project “AVAIL – “Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and lifeskills”. During the training participants had the opportunity to improve their knowledge about the intercultural communication and to develop organizational skills related to management of inter-constitutional cooperation together with people with different ethnic background, including refugees and asylum seekers.
The training was led by mg.soc. Inese Lazda – Mazula. She is an expert in terms of the intercultural competences and management of diversity with many years international practical experience. The lecturer has a Master’s degree (Berlin) in social work with a specialization in intercultural communication and conflict management.
Project is funded by European Union.
On December 17, in Riga, Latvian Red Cross, within the international project “AVAIL – “Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and lifeskills” organised a Christmas event for children of refugees and asylum seekers”. Families attended the event together with their social mentors. First, they watched a movie “Red Shoes and Seven Dwarfs” (2019). After the movie, everyone had a chance to meet Santa Claus who brought presents for children and their families.
At the beginning of the event, everyone was greeted by Agnese Trofimova, the project “AVAIL” manager and by representatives of non-governmental organization “I want to help refugees”.
The event was organised together with the Society Integration foundation.
Thanks to Latvian Red Cross Youth for participating in organisational work and for helping Santa to hand out presents. Thanks also to social mentors for supporting refugee and asylum seekers’ families.
Photos: Latvian Red Cross
Latvian Red Cross, in cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency`s Regional Representation for Northern Europe (UNHCR), has organized 5 regional trainings with the title “Work for the integration of refugees and immigrants: intercultural interaction, good practice and experience.”
The training aims to build capacity and expertise of more than one hundred service providers, public authorities and representatives of local communities. Organized in five different regions across Latvia – Rezekne, Puikule, Bauska, Saldus and Riga between 23 – 27 September, the trainings are part of the international Red Cross project “AVAIL- Amplifying the Voices of Asylum Seekers and Refugees for Integration and Life Skills” (more information about the project can be found HERE).
The representatives from UNHCR, Marcel Colun and Karolis Zibas, presented general information about the current situation related to issues of asylum, migration and relocation, the effect of legislative changes on results of integration of refugees and immigrants, as well as overall integration policy and processes at the regional and national level.
Moreover, Mr. Tamim Nashed, a trainer form Austria who is independent expert on integration and intercultural competences and former Policy Officer at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), presented aspects of intercultural competences. Another speaker was a Syrian refugee living in Latvia, Mr. Sulaeman Alzouabi, who works as a doctor in a hospital. Sulaeman shared his life story and the experience of being a refugee.
The audience of these trainings were employees of state and municipal institutions, including policy planners, representatives from educational institutions, social and health care workers and activists form other non-governmental organisations. In addition, broad range of municipalities were represented: Riga, Rezekne, Daugavpils, Valmiera and Jurmala City councils, regional municipalities of Balvi, Rezekne, Aloja, Valka, Rezekne, Burtnieki, Bauska and Baldone. Moreover, representatives from State Work inspection, Society Integration Foundation, Latgale planning region and Municipal police of Aloja region were among the audience as well.
After these trainings, participants admitted that they had received a lot of new and interesting information that will be very useful in their daily work and communication with foreigners. Also, they revealed that from now on they will be more critical towards information about the migration crisis, refugees and intercultural interaction presented by media.
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On 10-12 September 2019, a joint meeting of Red Cross members from the partner countries of the international project “AVAIL – Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and lifeskills” (Red Cross national societies of UK, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies) and of a project “ARCI – Action of Red Cross on Integration of Relocated and Resettled Persons” (Red Cross national societies of Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany and the IFRC Federation) took place in Bulgaria. This platform was organized in order to share experience and knowledge on refugee and asylum integration issues in each country and in Europe in general.
AVAIL partners presented learning from participatory approaches and community engagement in integration activities, and ARCI team shared its recommendations from needs assessments and learning from integration activities for relocated and resettled asylum-seekers and refugees.
The two project teams are working together in order to organize a Conference in Brussels in December 2019 where projects` partners will present the lessons learned throughout the implementation experience of both two-years projects and deliver suggestions how to improve the integration of refugees and asylum seekers and the involvement of the host societies into the both-way integration process.
At the end of summer 2019, on 29 August asylum seekers and refugees with their families went on an excursion to Sigulda. During the excursion, participants enjoyed Krimulda manor house, air tram, serpentine path, Livonian Order Sigulda castle ruins and Gutmanu cave.
The final destination of this excursion was the playground for children in Raina Park.
The activity was organised within the Red Cross international project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills”.
On behalf of Latvian Red Cross, hanks to:
Ropazi municipality for providing transport,
Organizational project meeting within international project “AVAIL” has taken place in Great Britain
On 21 – 30 August 2019 representatives from Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) joined experience exchange meeting in Great Britain. It was organised within the international Red Cross project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills”. All partners attended the meeting and it was organised to give participants the opportunity to see and learn more about the diverse situation related to refugees, asylum seekers (RAS) and their integration, the access to work and education, as well as life before and after receiving refugee or alternative status. Participants also learned about the services of Red Cross mentors/cultural mediators, mechanisms on how to include RAS in specific activities and access to social services in different regions of Great Britain. The meeting was held in Birmingham (England) and in Newport (Wales).
Representatives of project partner countries – Great Britain, Ireland, Italy and Latvia – discussed and shared their experience of working in AVAIL project. Participants also made plans for further project activities for Autumn 2019.
During the meeting, employees of Hellenic Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies shared their experience online in working with RAS in Greece.
On 24 July 2019, within the international Red Cross project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills”, Latvian Red Cross organised educational excursion for families of refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) to Tervete Nature Park.
It was a great opportunity for RAS to know more about Latvia and to spend time with their families. More than 40 RAS learned about Latvian literature and met amazing inhabitants of the Nature Park.
With a help of tour guide, participants learned about the characters of Latvian literature: Sikstulis, The Witch, Lutausis etc., they also did several sports activities. Participants admitted that they enjoyed this day very much andgot to know very useful information about nature’s treasures: mushrooms, berries, plants, trees etc. A fairy tale “Spriditis” (written by Latvian author Anna Brigadere) ant its main character, the brave boy Spriditis, also impressed participants.
On behalf of Latvian Red Cross, thanks to Ropazi Municipality for successful cooperation and for providing transport.
On 4 June, 2019, within the project “AVAIL” Latvian Red Cross organised glass jewellery (earrings, brooches, pendants and necklaces) workshop for refugees and asylum seekers.
After cutting colourful pieces of glass, each piece was combined in different combinations and colour ranges and every participant could imagine himself/herself as glass artist.
Children and adults joined this workshop with big interest. After the workshop, each handmade piece of jewellery will be melted in oven in 800-degree high temperature, where every peace will take the specific shape and will be ready for wearing.
Since the warmer weather has arrived in Latvia, Latvian Red Cross, within the international project “AVAIL”, invites refugees and asylum seekers to join public events, for example to spend their free time actively in nature or to do some sports.
Ezekiel from Nigeria, who is one of the asylum seekers in Latvia, showed his interest to join one of the biggest sports event in Latvia, international Tet Riga Marathon on 19th May 2019.
LatRC supported Ezekiel practically and emotionally. He was determined to run the full distance of 42 km, admitting, “I usually do trainings 4 to 5 times a week and I love to challenge myself”.
Unfortunately, because of the leg injury, Ezekiel did not run the whole distance, but more than 30 km. After the marathon, Ezekiel said that he was very proud of himself and that these new positive emotions are unforgettable and very important for his personal growth. Also, Ezekiel was happy to experience multicultural environment and warm weather during this event.
The project is funded by European Union within the migration and integration fund (AMIF).
On 18 May 2019, within the international Red Cross project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills”, Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) organised educational excursion for families of refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) to the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia.
The participants of this event were RAS from Russia, Cuba, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Iran and LatRC social workers and mentors (55 people in total). Together with a guide and expert on culture and language of the Livonians,. Ms. Zoja Sīle, RAS learned about the heritage of the Latvian ethnographic culture and stories about the regional diversity. Zoja admitted that this was her first experience in working together with RAS, but she was happy to interact with people from other cultures and to learn more about the people who are looking for safe place to stay and live.
After the long walk around historical yards, participants went to cafe “Punite” to enjoy delicious soup, tart and juice made by owners of the café.
After the lunch, participants spent free time next to Lake Jugla, they also went to see ceramics and shared their thoughts about the excursion with each other.
RAS positively evaluated the idea of this excursion, ancient and authentic buildings and household items; they were surprised by the tradition to hold a coffin in an attic and other traditions by Livonians.
In terms of communication, great help came from translators-mentors for Turkish, Spanish, Russian and English languages. They translated every question and comment addressed to staff members of the museum which was very useful for having successful learning and interacting process.
On 28 March 2019, Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) organised a study visit for colleagues form German, British, Italian and Irish Red Cross national societies and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), as well as for representatives of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The main aim of the study visit was to introduce international guests with the experience of Ropazi municipality, Accommodation Centre for Asylum Seekers “Mucenieki” and Riga Secondary School No. 93 in regard to integrating refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) in local society of Latvia. Guests had the opportunity to get to know more about the general situation in terms of the access to education (especially for children), health care and daily life of a person before and after receiving refugee or alternative status.
First, participants of the study visit went to Ropazi municipality, where the Executive Director Signe Grube introduced everyone with different projects, activities and municipality’s work in integrating RAS into local society. After the presentation, the system of education, health care and social services related to RAS in the territory of Ropazi municipality was discussed among participants.
The visit continued in the Accommodation Centre for Asylum Seekers “Mucenieki”, which is located in Ropazi municipality, 40 min driving distance from capital city Riga. The centre is the main State institution where asylum seekers who arrive to Latvia live while waiting for receiving their status. The director of “Mucenieki” Peteris Grube organized an excursion around the territory of the centre, introduced with everyday life of inhabitants, internal rules, services and free time activities that are provided there.
After the excursion LatRC social worker and social mentors presented the latest information about the work with RAS. Participants got to know more about the “Buddy” program and the support mechanism to promote the integration processes and socialization with local people within the AVAIL project.
The third stop of the visit was Riga Secondary School No. 93. In this school several refugee children have started their studies. The director and teachers told about school’s experience and obstacles in teaching children with different cultural and educational background, and without Latvian language skills. They inroduced participants with several approches and metotolodgy of how to teach foreign children and how to help them socialize with other kinds. There are couple of good practice examples, where refugee children have started studies in a school, are very sucessful in dealing with exercises, homeworks and exams and getting in a higher grade afterwards.
At the end of the day participants of this study visit addmited that this kind of learning process was very useful and important especially comparing Latvia’s and other countrie’s experience: similarities and differences.
LatRC is one of the 191 national societies of International Red Cross movement, which works with the main goal to provide help and support to every person in need, including RAS.
Since February 2018 LatRC together with British, Italian, Irish Red Cross national societies and IFRC realizes international project AVAIL – “Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and lifeskills”. The project is funded by European Union within the migration and integration fund (AMIF).
In 27 March 2019 in The European Union House in Riga the Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) organised an international conference “IntegRIGAtion: Humanity as integration tool”.
The aims of the conference was:
to identify the importance and practice of different integration activities in inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) in local society;
During the panel discussion, the participants of the conference exchanged views and experiences, concluding that several countries are joining similar barriers to promoting the integration of refugees and asylum seekers. The main conclusions are:
LatRC is one of the 191 national societies of International Red Cross movement, which works with the main goal to provide help and support to every person in need, including RAS.
Information was prepared by
The Latvian Red Cross
Head of International and Public Relations
Phone: +371 67686312
During March 2019, integration activities organised by Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) within the international Red Cross project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills” are continuing.
On 1 March 2019, refugees and asylum seekers together with their mentors went to a puppet show and watched the play about two mousses “Koko & Riko”.
During the play children laughed and after the show they played together with other local children who visited the puppet theatre. It was great to see how children, without any obstacles regarding different nationalities, race and culture, could play and communicate with each other.
Before the show, participants went to a dining restaurant “LIDO” to enjoy meals of a traditional Latvian kitchen.
Moreover, on 13 March 2019, RAS together with social worker and mentors visited Chocolate museum “Laima” where they joined creative workshop in order to learn how to make sweets and how a single cocoa fruit seed transfers into delicious, sweet chocolate.
Latvian Red Cross educational integration event for refugees and asylum seekers “Latvia’s and Latvian RC` 100 year anniversary”
On 15 November 2018, the Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) within the international project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills” organised an event “Latvia’s and Latvian Red Cross` 100 year anniversary”. It was organised together with asylum seekers and refugees, who made traditional meals of countries of their origin. LatRC volunteers and employees together with staff members of Ropazi municipality made a bean soup, organized a lovely concert and Latvian games. More than 50 refugees and asylum seekers from Iraq, Turkey, Palestine and Georgia were participating in this event. The Latvian Red Cross thanks Society Integration Foundation, Ropazi municipality and Accommodation Centre for Asylum Seekers “Mucenieki” for their help and support in organizing the event!
On 24 October 2018, the Latvian Red Cross within the international project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills” organised a cinema visit and lunch for all participants after the movie. Before going to the cinema, refugees together with LatRC staff members chose a movie, which they would want to see and discussed all details related to lunch. It was organised to have an opportunity to talk over the cinema experience together and in such way to learn about the importance of sharing ones thoughts and spend time together in a qualitative manner. Refugees and asylum seekers together with support persons watched the movie “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”.
The happiness in children’s and adult’s eyes was priceless, because for couple of them it was the first cinema visit.
60 refugees, asylum seekers and support persons (age 4 – 60) participated in the event.
On 18 August 2018, the Latvian Red Cross within the international project “AVAIL- Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and life skills” organised visit to the Zoo wher e an informative lecture about Latvia’s nature and its animals was organised.
Participants, especially children and youngsters, where very happy to visit the Zoo, especially because it was the first time for them. Many participants gave a very positive feedback and and asked to organised more events just like this.
In addition, meeting with giraffes and polar bears was amazing – animals seemed very friendly and calm.
37 refugees, asylum seekers and support persons (age 4 – 60) participated in the event.