This is a work in progress idea for the OpenVillage.
How can Britain and Europe work together, post-Brexit, to provide a humane and safe environment for asylum seekers and refugees across the continent?
Worked on the Ground in Calais 2016. OpenCare fellow. Wrote about my experience here.
Now, I am a Regional Coordinator for Help Refugees. The UK largest grassroots refugee charity. Initially a reactionary humanitarian charity. Sending volunteers from UK out to support projects in France and beyond. Now, works to support projects in areas across Europe. Working with local organisations doing charitable/humanitarian work in Northern France, Greece mainland and islands, Serbia, Italy, Turkey and Lebanon. Fundraisers and political change-makers – lobbying UK government and civil service/NGOs.
Starting to work on the ground in the UK. Eyes turned towards putting our own house in order. Undertaking an asset mapping of refugee services in UK. Desperate to avoid overlap or duplication. More about connecting and supporting existing services with volunteers and funds. Ethos is heavily on grassroots, non-NGO, Non-Political, but partisan actors. Working with refugees IS a political act. Predominantly Young volunteers, and young people within central team. Mix of UK and local European partner volunteers working in projects on the ground – strong split 50/50.
How could the event work?
Reach out to Help Refugees organisers. Bring in people running the groups they support around Europe. Could pitch it as a Help Refugees European summit for grassroots and citizen-led refugee projects, working with EdgeRyders to connect to a wider audience.
How might it work?
In an ideal world i would ask the team from Good Chance Theatre to bring their theatre to the city for the weekend. We would use the space inside it to run a series of open group discussions, keynote talks, breakout discussions and evening entertainment.
Discussions I would like to see people having:
- Building a sustainable model for volunteering abroad beyond ‘pay to play’ services in “developing world”.
- Encouraging people to volunteer ‘at home’ to refugee charities. How do we borrow ideas from the ‘Health charity sector’?
- Practices for developing cohesion and integration. What can we learn from each other?
- Dealing with trauma and deep trauma: When a little knowledge is a dangerous thing
- A generation of lost skills: How do we make sure skilled refugees are assisted into skilled work?
- Microfinancing, sharing economy and skills banks: initiatives for charities to help us help each other.
- On the move: or how to hack your way through life. A session where people share ideas and tips with each other that they have learned from being on the move.
- Tech and refugees. How do we stop building apps and start building communities?
- Working with governments. Petitioning, lobbying and campaigning. What works? what doesn’t? what next?
- What happens when ‘the crisis’ is over? How do we make sure that ‘business as usual’ is better? What next for Fortress Europe? How do we prepare for a future of mass migration and political uncertainty?
Speakers and Orgs I would like to hear talks from
Creative Europe culture team (eu/bel)
Refugees International (USA)
Breaking Barriers (uk)
Refugio Berlin (De)
The Orange House (gr) (ER members and Help Refugees funded)
Help Refugees (uk)
Utopia 56 (fr)
Platforma (counterpoint arts) (UK)
Art Refuge Uk (uk)
Young Roots (uk)
@Iriedawta and The Armenia Refugee Project
A long list of potential groups that may be encouraged to participate. The hope would be that ER existing members would be encouraged along to meet as a group and that a number of new organsiations would join. Adding their stories to the project. On top of this the hope would be to reach out to the volunteer and refugee support community in Brussels. Also, (if we can make it happen) the large theatre space would be a visable beacon to members of the public.
It’s a big idea. It could be scaled down if required. It has the potential for a lot of moving parts, but i think it’s achievable given the timescale. The biggest hurdles would be securing buy in from Good Chance Theatre to create the space, and finding ways to support grassroots volunteers to travel to, and stay in, Brussels to meet, share and talk.
Typical ER problems i guess.
Let me know any thoughts you have about the idea. Happy to reframe, or revisit any ideas here based on input.