Intertwined wants to change the public perception of refugees as incapable outsiders. By creating a space where refugees and Greeks can meet, engage with each other and start a conversation, we will address the public hostility and biases towards refugees that are hindering their integration, while promoting civic cohesion and trust between all stakeholders involved. Thus, we will create an integrated community where everyone’s voices are equally weighted, regardless of their nationality.
Ioannina, Greece, Epirus region
Our project aims to change the public perception of refugees as incapable outsiders and to reverse the hostility associated with it. Said perception is detrimental to the well-being of refugees: it hampers their agency, impedes them from re-building their self-reliance, perpetuates a sense of non-belonging, and prevents their needs from being met by public policies. But until avenues for communities to meet, engage with each other are made available, such perceptions and the internal biases they entail, can’t be tackled. Our goal is to foster an integrated community where everyone has an equal chance to participate by providing an avenue for meaningful interactions between refugees and locals to happen.
The main target groups will be the refugee population living in the municipality of Ioannina and the local Greek community. By ‘refugee population’ we intend refugees and asylum seekers aged 18+ who come predominantly from Afghanistan (35%) and Syria (20%) (Data: UNHCR, 2021). By ‘Greek community’, we intend Greek residents of Ioannina aged 18+ who represent different socio-economic backgrounds present in the area. As in the programmes we currently run, we aim to involve an equal number of men and women within each community. As well as be representatives of different age groups, genders and nationalities, so as to be truly representative.
1. Capacity building of Second Tree (ST) team in community engagement mechanisms by expert trainers partner
2. Identification of 40 project participants (40 refugees, 40 Greeks)
3. ST conducts a need assessment among the participants to identify the most urgent topics to tackle. A calendar of relevant discussion topics is created accordingly
4. Outreach conducted to local decision-makers, based on the issues identified in the focus groups
5. ST train refugees in the “Refugees Are People (RAP)” approach
6. Refugees train locals and decision-makers in the RAP approach to ensure an environment where everyone is treated equally. The aim of making refugees trainees is to empower them and equip them with tools to deconstruct biases towards them in other situations.
7. Focus groups between refugees and Greeks are organised (Trust and Discussion Circles - TAD), during which participants voice their concerns and point of views on selected topics
8. Workshops between refugees, Greeks and local decision-makers are organised (Community Hubs - CH), within which Greeks and refugees propose concrete solutions to the issues raised in the TAD.
Both TAD and CH are facilitated by ST and translators, take place twice a month and tackle one topic per session, following the calendar created in 3
9. A booklet on this model of community engagement is created to enable its replicability.
Over a one year period:
Civic cohesion between refugees and Greeks will be enhanced:
20 refugees will be trained in the RAP approach and train 20 Greek locals and decision-makers, transforming refugees from outsiders to equally involved stakeholders
Meaningful dialogue between Greeks and refugees will be cultivated by 16 Trust and Discussion sessions
Community socio-political participation enhanced:
Policy gaps related to the livelihoods of the communities will be identified and addressed
16 Community Hubs will provide inclusive bottom-up solutions and better inform decision-makers on citizens’ needs
Civic skills, e.g. public speaking and leadership, of participants will be enhanced
One booklet containing community engagement best practices will be shared with partners
Our idea will strengthen social engagement and participation by providing a physical space for refugees, locals and decision-makers to listen to each other, discuss problems and co-create solutions. These activities will reinforce community participation through the development of socio-political skills, e.g. public speaking, leadership, and problem solving. Our Community Hubs will further serve as a guide for policy-makers to tailor policies to the needs of the community in the future. Finally, our RAP training will guarantee that the power dynamic rendering refugees politically and economically impotent is addressed.
Giovanni Fontana and Dina Pasic, founders of Second Tree, have worked with the refugee community in Epirus since 2016. Giovanni is Second Tree’s president, and Dina develops the organisation’s programs and policies. Both have over 10 years of experience in the humanitarian sector and pioneered an innovative approach to community engagement based on fostering refugees’ agency by rejecting patronising attitudes and engaging with refugees as equals. In this way, they built meaningful relationships of trust with the communities we work with, becoming deeply familiar with the individuals and their needs. They now aim to export this approach to the local community to promote civic cohesion and cultivate the inclusion of refugees in all aspects of life.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Staff costs EUR 23.370
Travel & subsistence costs EUR 3.396
Consumable supplies EUR 1.096
Rent costs EUR 10.680
Hello! We believe that overcoming biases is key to promoting civic cohesion between people. In Europe, today refugees are seen as recipients of aid rather than agents of their own change. We believe our project can fix that – what do you think?