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Inspiration in Istanbul: 3rd FIER Project Meeting


YUVA Derneği hosted in Istanbul the third international FIER project meeting on 9‑10 May 2019. This project is funded by the European Union under the EaSI PROGRESS programme, under the coordination of Region Västra Götaland, and will last until December 2019. Already behind the equator of the project, all partners and associate partners gathered to share their reflections and evaluation on their pilot implementations of fast-track labour market integration models for third-country nationals and refugees, as well as to get ready for the final stretch of the project.

Joint language and labour-market oriented skills fast-track courses with internships in companies are taking place in Oslo, Baden-Württemberg and Västra Götaland, in the fields of gastronomy, hospitality, nursing, childcare, and logistics. The first day of meeting allowed participants to share these courses’ results with other partners and identify common challenges and success factors, such as the importance of both teachers and beneficiaries believing in the fast-track training process, coaching and language support after the course, counting on beneficiaries from the beginning of the process to have their inputs always in mind, and having reliable, refugee-friendly companies on board. The role of in-company mentors (a programme designed by PH Weingarten) was highlighted, and regions like Oslo and Västra Götaland are seeking possibilities to implement this programme, already tested in Baden-Württemberg.

On another note, partners such as Land Salzburg and YUVA are developing motivation and empowerment programmes for specific target groups, such as women or children, seeking to foster an active inclusion that takes into account both local communities and refugees. Furthermore, GO! is developing a learning path model to be implemented in schools in order to foster active citizenship and inclusion sensitivity. 

On Friday morning, project partners divided into groups and visited three different venues in Istanbul: YUVA Project Office in Umraniye District, RASAS in Sultanbeyli District and Kitchen of Refugee Women in Okmeydani District, where project partners could witness YUVA and other grassroots NGOs’ work in the field of refugee integration. YUVA’s work in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods of Istanbul, combining environment protection with the eradication of inequalities as two faces of the same coin, was very inspirational for FIER partners, as it was also the role of grassroots organisations created by and for refugees. These visits helped to better understand the background of the people who arrive in Europe fleeing from war, poverty and disasters, as well as their needs and concerns.   

The last FIER pilot courses will take place during spring and summer, and the fourth and last project meeting will take place on 18-19 November 2019 in Brussels. The FIER Final Conference will be held at the Flemish Ministry of Education in Brussels on 19 November, gathering international policy‑makers, education professionals, social workers, inclusion and migration experts, and FIER beneficiaries.