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Helping the helpers:
© dannywilde, Fotolia.de
Migration is and will continue to be an issue—in Germany and the EU
Germany is a country of immigration. Although there is proof that the number of people entering Germany has always exceeded the number of those leaving, migration only became a central part of the political and social discussion during the so-called “refugee crisis” in 2015. Now, almost four years later, the challenge of adequate first aid to the newcomers has largely been overcome and the “refugee crisis” is no longer as present in the media. The topic itself, however, remains as relevant as ever.
The challenges have by no means been overcome; they have simply been shifted elsewhere
The range of tasks that fall to government agencies, integration support providers, and particularly volunteers has changed substantially. While earlier everyone could offer short-term initial help by serving food or providing clothing, today, refugees need long-term personal support and guidance. This is the only way for integration to be successful in the long-term. Volunteers performing this often particularly time-consuming task are an incredibly important source of aid without which many integration programmes would not be possible. The Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI) at the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg aims to support volunteers by providing helpful services and advice to facilitate their day to day work.
CaseWORK—helping the helpers
In the Erasmus+ project CaseWORK, the Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI) joins forces with four European countries —Greece, Slovenia, Austria, and Italy—to designing a flexible online training course. The free-of-charge training materials aim to serve as a resource for volunteers, who may have questions or feel insecure about their work with refugees. The CaseWORK team researched the situation of volunteers in the areas of asylum and integration in each of the five countries. They conducted surveys and personal interviews in order to identify the individual needs of the volunteers. The results of this needs analysis are available on the project’s website.
What type of support does the project offer?
Based on the needs analysis, the CaseWORK team has developed three areas of focus. The completed online course will include learning modules for the following topics:
The “Information” module will provide volunteers with general information about migration. Background information about migration at the European level as well as for each country individually shall be covered. Additionally, basic concepts such as the CEAS (Central European Asylum System) or the Dublin Regulation will be explained simply and clearly. Volunteers will also be given the opportunity to actively keep up to date with current information. Of course, many volunteers have one key question: “What is the best way I can help”? The project provides a multitude of tips, information, and context to assist in answering this question and offers support regarding topics such as housing, the labour market, education, and health insurance.
The second module, “Intercultural Competence”, deals with culture in general, cultural norms, and stereotyping. Concepts of verbal and non-verbal communication are introduced. The objective of the module is to raise awareness of cultural differences as well as the obstacles that they can create and to deepen volunteers’ understanding of where and how certain differences originate. Understanding people’s behaviour and attitudes also makes it easier to deal with them.
The third module focuses on the psychology of helping. It illuminates difficult and burdensome situations which may arise while working with refugees. Volunteers learn why helping can be a burden psychologically and receive helpful advice for handling the daily challenges of volunteering.
After completing each module, learners receive a certificate with a competency profile confirming their participation.
Where can I find further information and how do I participate?
The CaseWORK team is currently busy developing the contents of the project. The courses will be available starting in June, after which enrolment will be possible at any time. Course registration is free of cost and available to everyone. Those who wish to find out more about the project beforehand are kindly invited to attend the network meeting at the Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI) in Fürth on 26 April. Aside from offering an introduction to the CaseWORK learning platform, the event provides time and space for discussion, exchange, and networking. Further information will be provided on our website casework.eu shortly. Our Facebook page CaseWORK is also a resource where you can find the latest news about the project. Furthermore, you can sign up for our newsletter on our website. The CaseWORK team welcomes each visitor!
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