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The FATIMA project

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WONDER Foundation and partner NGOs

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The FATIMA project was an EU partnership project between five NGOs working to support migrant women through a personalised and holistic approach. The project exceeded its goals by supporting 255 women aged between 15 and 50, living in the former EU Member of the UK, Poland, Slovenia, and Spain, and coming from 40 different third countries. Co-designed to support the women's economic, social, cultural and political integration, FATIMA ensured each participant received individual attention through diverse activities, including through the very valuable women-to-women mentoring sessions.

Video: ©The FATIMA project 

The project's partners include the WONDER Foundation (the UK), The Baytree Centre (the UK), Fundación Senara (Spain), Panorama (Poland), and Fundacija Sursum (Slovenia).

Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption

As each individual faces a distinct set of challenges to integration and language learning within a new country, mentoring is extremely valuable. This has already been proven through previous research, which, however, has been widely male-centric.

FATIMA paired refugee women with mentors of a shared migrant background and interests, thus helping them relate and understands their experiences in an intuitive and comforting way.

How does it work

The FATIMA project implements a six-step process in order to foster the inclusion of and remove the barriers migrant women face. These include: 

  • Engagement: Each co-applicant has created publicity material to engage the target participant in the programme. A Personal Development Plan has been produced to access the baseline needs of the beneficiaries.
  • Language classes: Following an initial assessment by a tutor, the women are assigned to an appropriate language class; the curriculum follows themes connected to integration and living in the host country; a number of FATIMA beneficiaries have also went on to obtain certificates in English through the Accredited Pearson Edexcel exam.
  • Civic knowledge: In an effort to help them discover the host community, the women took part in over 128 activities, including talks on the healthcare and education systems, social service access, financial management and careers advice, as well as wellbeing sessions such as yoga and ‘laughter therapy’. To get familiar with the local culture and customs, the participants also visit to key cultural sites and sample the local cuisine. The Polish project partner introduced women to the local history though the series of events entitled 'A Cup of Culture', while the  dedicated to significant figures of Polish history. In Slovenia, on the other hand, a special workshop covered important aspects of the Slovenian healthcare system, including how to register with a local general practitioner doctor and how to handle emergencies. 
  • Mentoring: Each partner organisations ensures that selected volunteer mentors are available for each beneficiary; the mentors' role is crucial in supporting the well-being of the women, and in helping them to reach their potential, often by unearthing their aspirations and goals and encouraging them to work towards these. More concretely, the mentors helped by sharing their personal experiences and knowledge of local life; assisted newcomers in accessing essential services; helped teach about the local culture and customs. Over time, more activities were naturally undertaken, including cooking classes and cultural talks, part of the activities mentioned above.
  • Employability support: Volunteer and work sessions have been arranged for the beneficiaries who thus completed a total of 65 volunteering or work experiences, allowing them to test employment options and, in some cases, to secure work in the future.
  • Dissemination: In an effort to reach policymakers, the project has been disseminated amongst EU, national and local-level policymakers in order to influence policies on the integration of migrants into the EU.

Photo: ©The FATIMA project 


Overall, 255 women have received support, which exceeds the initial target of 210 project participants. 

The project also confirmed the importance of women-to-women, individualised mentoring. 


The project has been evaluated during its work and at the end of it, with participants' feedback pointing that FATIMA helped improved their language skills - the most important factor for integration, as assessed by the women themselves - in a supportive and friendly environment which accelerated their integration process. All participants who completed the programme have improved their language skills.

The women also noted important psychological benefits, having an increased sense of belonging and experiencing a boost of self-confidence as their language skills improved. Some also noted they saw their mentors as role models. A tutor working on the UK side of the project noted: 'I want you to be happy. I want you to be proud of yourselves. Walk through the streets with a lot of dignity. Never ever feeling ashamed that you didn’t go to school or work.' Read testimonials of the beneficiaries here


Who will benefit?

255 women aged between 15 and 50, living in the former EU Member of the UK, Poland, Slovenia, and Spain, and coming from 40 different third countries.

Many of these women were mothers and had other additional responsibilities making regular language class attendance difficult. The project partners had to respond with great flexibility in order to accommodate the women's needs. For example, in Spain, the partner organisation Senara managed to include member of the Chinese community in Madrid by welcoming children into the project.

Source of funding and Resources used

The project was funded by the 2016 round of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).