Our goal is to empower migrants to become an engaged part of the civil society and to create a safe space where migrants and locals can meet each other, gain better mutual understanding, improve intercultural dialogue and develop stronger inclusive communities. Volunteer Buddy tandems and community events facilitate personal interactions and mutual support and educational activities increase participants’ capacities in intercultural communication, civic participation and community building.
Brno, Southern Moravia, Czech Republic
Almost 10% of the population of Brno come from a different country. However, large portion of the majority population has no or very limited personal experience with foreigners and the general perception of migrants is often very negative. Migrants have little opportunity to create meaningful connections with locals and to participate in public life due to social and cultural barriers. Some would like to contribute for example through volunteer work, but organizations are not ready or willing to accept them as volunteers. Their voices are not heard in the public discourse and the current status quo only further feeds negative stereotyping and rise of xenophobia and racism in the society and leaves migrants excluded from an engagement in civil activities and participation in public sphere.
The project strives to overcome the language and cultural barriers that migrants face, and to facilitate civic participation through local community activities and volunteering (for the migrants and locals as well). It will provide them with information, skills, and support needed for the organization of their own community events, and thus provide an opportunity to become active community actors, not just recipients of help. The project further promotes volunteer work as a means of caring for one’s city and engagement in the local society. Therefore, the project improves opportunities for social and intercultural engagement, meeting of people from different backgrounds, and fosters a sense of belonging, civic engagement, solidarity and responsibility for the quality of life in the city.
The project seeks to strengthen the foundations for amicable societal interactions that reflect diversity and create a safe environment for all. There are three project target groups:
● migrants residing in the region, including especially vulnerable groups such as Muslim women,
● locals already involved or looking to get involved in community-based initiatives and volunteer activities,
● general public in the region.
We expect to interest ca. 60 people that will eventually create 15-20 active Buddy tandems (one local and one migrant that meet regularly). Ca. 100 people including current Buddies will attend the educational activities and ca. 120 people will attend the community events. We expect to reach out to around 70 000 public from the region through the website and social media.
1) Initial phase: the core team (including current Buddies and volunteers) co-creates supporting teaching materials, communication strategy, prepares the recruitment and educational activities
2) Recruitment of local and migrant participants (Buddies), creation of Buddy tandems
3) Workshops: to facilitate better orientation and communication based on Buddies’ needs (language support, intercultural and non-violent communication, how to actively participate in Brno)
4) Community events: to provide space for Buddies to meet with others and the community; we will support their active participation in organization of the events and provide mini-grants to plan and organize their own events
5) Ongoing individual support: mentoring and supporting Buddy tandems in involvement in volunteering
Migrants can better navigate life in the city and local communities; they have a better knowledge of Czech and can use it in practical situations, which fosters their confidence and self-reliance. Their social capital has increased; they have more and stronger connections in the local society and they have a Buddy to turn to if needed. Locals learn about different cultures and how to guide someone through their language and society. Both groups gain new competencies in communication (intercultural and NVC), volunteering and civic participation; they are motivated and ready to engage more in their communities. People get to know each other through the Buddy tandems and the public events and the mutual prejudices are mitigated. There are more positive images of migrants in the public spaces.
The aim of the project is to empower migrant communities to become an engaged part of the civil society, to encourage intercultural dialogue, strengthen necessary competences and increase social capital on an individual and community level. By overcoming barriers to communication and participation and by bringing people together on an individual and personal level, the project fosters intercultural dialogue and engagement. Promoting mutual understanding helps prevent conflicts and build an inclusive and cohesive society. The project promotes volunteering and civic participation as tools to strengthen the relationship with one’s community, support social inclusion and reinforce European democratic values. We plan to share our experience with others in the country as well as partners abroad.
We want to help build an inclusive and cohesive society where mutual support, respect, and solidarity are the norm rather than an oddity. It is important for us to create a safe space where everyone (both Czechs and newcomers) can participate and promote positive changes at a local level that can later be applied on a larger scale. We know what it feels like to start a new life in a new country and we understand the importance of an individual support, empowerment, and friendly connections. The tools and activities of the public bodies are not sufficient or inclusive enough; migrants often cannot reach the support they need and they cannot engage in the society. We believe in strengthening the communities from the bottom up and we see that our activities do help and make a positive impact.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs (project & financial management, coordination of Buddy tandems, educational, community activities x 14 months): 30,000
PR (incl. online & offline materials): 6,500
Educational activities (trainers, rent, creation and realization of training on NVC (24hrs): 5,400
Creation of audiovisual/teaching materials: 2,000
Community activities (incl. 600 EUR for mini-grants): 2,000
Materials, IT equipment: 1,800
Services (graphic design, printing,translations): 1,000
Any feedback is welcome! We would also like to address the barriers to migrants’ participation in the public sector – local public bodies, advisory committees etc. Do you have any advice on how to build coalitions to foster such participation and overcome the reluctance of public institutions?