This October ALL DIGITAL started a new exciting project called “The WELCOME Programme”. As the title hints, we will be working with newcomers – asylum seekers and refugees. How? Through creative IT workshops, which will unlock their potential and foster their inclusion in our countries.
The partners in the project are five ALL DIGITAL network members from Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Spain, plus the Greek organisation IASIS, which has a number of centres for psychological support and education for asylum seekers and refugees in Athens (in Greek IASIS means “recovery, health restoration”).
WELCOME project partners at a kick-off meeting in Brussels, Oct 2017
The initial idea to develop a Programme for IT courses for migrants and refugees was born within the ALL DIGITAL (then Telecentre Europe) network during the Telecentre Europe General Assembly in Amsterdam in Spring 2016. It was led by our then Board member Manus Hanratty from Ireland. The working title of the programme was “WELCOME”. It was endorsed by many members, so the need for a programme to support this specific target group was obvious.
Since then, and based on this initial idea, we have explored several opportunities and our efforts finally materialised in the current project. We hope that it will be the first step towards building our network’s expertise for successful integration of newcomers through digital technologies and skills.
In “The WELCOME Programme” we will develop and pilot an innovative methodology for a creative IT course. In this course, we will train young newcomers as IT mentors. They will then work as volunteers and organise IT workshops for their peers and for local people. Thus, they will share their skills and show their potential to serve the community, volunteering not in the usual activities such as cooking or cleaning, but as IT mentors, which requires higher technical skills.
As part of the programme, the young mentors will produce digital stories to reflect on the programme experience. They will share them with their peers to motivate them to volunteer or participate in educational, social and cultural activities, as well as to raise awareness about the need to make activities more inclusive for third country nationals.
We will test the programme twice during the project and update it after each round. The final programme will take into account our lessons learned, and we hope that many organisations who want to work with refugees and asylum seekers will use it.
During a very intensive kick-off meeting on 10-11 October in Brussels, the seven partners discussed how to better organise themselves to develop the programme and train the trainers, and how to reach and train the young newcomers. We have to consider many challenges, including differing legal requirements and situations.
We take this challenge readily, and we will keep our members and stakeholders informed and engaged. We count on everyone’s support because we hope that this new initiative will benefit not only organisations directly involved, but all members who want to work with newcomers.
Look out for news about #digitalwelcome on social media and on the project website digitalwelcome.eu. Why “digital welcome”, you might ask? Because the digital component is our added value and contribution to the integration landscape and what distinguishes our approach from other initiatives on welcoming newcomers.