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Catapult – E5G (Unofficial translation)

Geographic Area

Portugal

City

Porto

Language

Portuguese

Type of Information

Case studies

Organisation

SOS Racismo

Contact Person

Ms. Inês Carvalho (Login to send email)

Contact Person Function

Project coordinator

Project Start

02/01/2013

Ongoing Project

No

Project End

31/12/2015

Summary

The Catapult – E5G project, supported via the Choices Programme, was aimed at children and young adults of both native and migrant background, aged between 11 and 24. It organised activities aimed at facilitating communication with migrant communities living in the neighbourhood of Sé, in the city of Porto.

With the aim of moulding citizens who value their origins and traditions but also want to develop an open and cosmopolitan identity, like the city of Porto itself, the project staff guided participants as they explored their education and employment options. They gave particular attention to the sustainability of their projects and ambitions.

Migrant children make up a minority group within the overall group of beneficiaries of the project, but this work being developed by NGO SOS Racism in the neighbourhood makes a huge difference to attitudes and behaviours, which in turn makes a huge difference to the lives of all migrants in the area.

Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption

The goal of the project was to develop a sense of citizenship and social participation among both young migrants and natives in neighbourhoods facing such issues as drug trafficking or social exclusion.

Two main areas of focus were identified under this goal:

  1. Combatting school failure and drop-out through a) the provision of educational and training activities, and b) the promotion of school re-integration and/or professional referral options;
  2. Promotion of active citizenship through the development of personal and social skills

One of the major challenges encountered by the team was the difficulty in initiating an integrated dialogue between different communities that had historically negative attitudes towards and perceptions of each other.

The assumption was that the youngsters empowered by the project would become emerging leaders in their communities and create a network of volunteers, to provide both school support and community services to the elderly population of their neighbourhood.

How does it work

Some of the participants were referred by child protection services, the school they were attending or a court of law. In these cases, attendance at certain activities was mandatory. The majority of participants, though, came voluntarily from the local community. Many were approached through street activities and urban mediation.

This work was carried out through close collaboration with partners involved in the project, maximising existing structures and services. The activities were held in the local community centre, the neighbourhood elementary school and the closest secondary school serving the area. These facilities arranged logistics for sessions and activities.

Once the project staff had gained the trust of participants through activities, several additional actions where organised. These ranged from Portuguese language support classes to football tournaments, including:

  • Life Stories debates on cultural diversity and non-discrimination in a classroom context took place throughout the school year. Students attending the third cycle of education (10th to 12th grades) were encouraged to discuss issues of racism and xenophobia as their main topics;
  • Portuguese language support classes, for pupils attending the first cycle of education (1st to 4th grades).
  • The Anti-Racist Football Tournament, held over two days, which asked participants to design banners with anti-racist messages;
  • The Welcome Refugees Football Tournament, that included debates on the issue of refugees and a workshop to paint a banner welcoming refugees;
  • Project Tree (see below) for children in the 1st cycle of education, focusing on cultural mixing, inclusion/exclusion and community building;
  • Project Justice for All of Us (see below): a programme promoting democratic values through education for justice and the human rights.

Project Tree was an intercultural project that used games and group dynamics to work through concepts such as integration, community, racism, xenophobia, and peace, in order to promote intercultural dialogue between the different communities attending the school.

Project Justice For All of Us (website here) comprised preparation sessions for the creation of a model 'court case' that portrayed racism and xenophobia in social networks. Following the preparation, the case was presented by the young participants in a 'court of law', to a judge who then gave a corresponding 'sentence'. In this way, young people experienced the consequences of racist and xenophobic attitudes in social networks and came to understand the legal consequences of such an attitude.

Results

  • 70 'Life Stories' sessions were organised throughout the school year with the participation of 7 classes constituting 140 students;
  • 10 pupils attended 20 sessions of language support classes;
  • 18 teams of 10 members, aged between 6 and 35, played during the Anti-Racist Football Tournament and 25 youngsters aged between 12 and 16 played during the "Welcome Refugees” tournament (participants aged over 24 were community members);
  • Project Tree held a total of 40 sessions involving 25 children aged 7 and 8 years old;
  • the Justice for All of Us programme held a total of 40 sessions and brought together 70 participants aged between 13 and 17;
  • project beneficiaries gained new knowledge and skills;
  • the fact that participants spent significant amounts of their free time at project activities reduced available time for potentially 'deviant' behaviour;
  • the school drop-out and failure rates among those youngsters who participated more regularly was reduced.

Evaluation

Within the scope of the Choices Programme (5th generation), the project was regularly evaluated. Information according to indicators was collected in the format of tables, and project staff members individually evaluated each participant using a scale of 1 to 3 (1 being unsatisfactory and 3 being very satisfactory). This evaluation included the number of participants who improved competences in citizenship and reduced their adherence to stereotypes in the sub-themes of understanding identity, diversity and multiculturalism; perception of urban space and historical change; historical perception of the evolution of social customs and habits, and identification of and acting in situations of discrimination.

After nearly three years of working with the community, the team noted that investing in such continuous work led to behavioural and speech change among immigrant communities, as well as wider acceptance of and curiosity towards each other and each other's differences. Despite not being able to present figures, the local school informed the project team of the participants’ school grades so that the overall assessment of the impact of intervention was possible.

Who will benefit?

A total of 150 direct participants (children, teenagers and youngsters) aged between 6 and 24 were the main beneficiaries, with an overall total of 400 direct and indirect beneficiaries. Among the 150 direct participants, approximately 40 were migrants or of migrant descent, mainly from Bangladesh and Morocco.

The direct participants were children and young people aged between 6 and 24, coming from more vulnerable socio-economic contexts including descendants of migrants and Roma, who were living in one or more of the following situations: a) school absenteeism; b) school failure; c) early school dropout; d) neither studying nor working; e) deviant behaviour; f) subject to educational measures; g) subject to promotion and protection measures.

The indirect participants were children and young people who do not fit in the characteristics defined in the previous paragraph, or for whom the aforementioned situation are applicable but less severe than for the direct participants. Following the logic of co-responsibility in the process of personal and social development, the family members of the participants are also considered indirect participants. Most individuals participated in several activities rather than just one.

Source of funding and Resources used

  • During the 3 years of its implementation the project was totally funded by the High Commission for Migration (Alto Comissariado para as Migrações) through the Choices Programme, with a total budget of € 169.083,30;
  • Concerning human resources, the project had one full time social educator (40 hours/week), who was also in charge of the project's coordination; one part-time monitor of the Centre for Digital Inclusion (32 hours/week); one part-time sociocultural animator (20 hours/week) and one part-time technical staff member in the areas of Employment and Entrepreneurship (10 hours/week);
  • The Centre for Digital Inclusion developed the training and digital accreditation activities, and provided support in carrying out activities through digital media. The sociocultural animator was in charge of mediation, providing support to school activities, community intervention, promoting debates in schools, organising intercultural projects, sports activities and theatre activities.