The Jesuit refugee service is currently in the final stage of a project that aimed at sharing best practices between youth workers and empowering young newcomers for quality integration in European societies. The project is part of Erasmus+ and the total duration is 18 months and it served to establish a strategic partnership among 3 NGOs that work with youths in Croatia, Italy and Greece. The purpose of the project was designing new methods of work with young people and drafting a manual that contains different activities that can be applied to working on social inclusion of any youths. What working with young refugees is essentially about is getting the youth to become aware of their importance, to ask for and receive support, to use the available tools for psychological relief and to find ways to meet their needs in a new environment.
Partners in this project; Jesuit refugee service, InCo from Italy and Poliana from Greece, have drafted a manual which addresses the above mentioned, with the intention that all the organisations working with young people (or those who feel that way) can find something useful and applicable to their target group.
The project started with a research in which we wanted to learn about young newcomer’s needs and obstacles they face in the process of integration. Therefore, we conducted focus groups in our countries. That activity provided us with an insight into ways in which we could best adapt our methods to address real needs stated in the focus groups. According to research results we developed 5 new methods of working with the youth that aim at overcoming obstacles and meeting the needs at least to an extent.
As part of the project we also organized an exchange of our organisation’s staff and volunteers who used this opportunity to present their working methods to each other, but also to support each other’s work and encourage one another for future work and efforts. We also organized a training to empower young newcomers who reside in Croatia, in order to acquaint them with a palette of stakeholders within the community who can support their integration and inclusion in the society. The idea was that youths from different parts of Croatia can connect better and to experience a structured, workshop type of work, through which they had a chance to become more aware of their needs, along with their personal strengths and weaknesses, learn about how the political system in Croatia works and what democratic values the EU promotes, but also to learn about quality communication and possibilities for psychological and stress relief through the application of some creative methods.
The result of the project is a manual published on the partners’ web pages which contains methods and activities for working with young newcomers, along with research results from the focus groups conducted at the onset of the project. The methods can be adapted for working with any group of people whom we want to empower to engage more actively in social and civic processes, but also to become more aware of their needs and ways in which those needs can be met. We encourage you to download the manual and adapt it to your needs. We hope you find in it something useful and enticing.