Getting active for migration

Getting active for migration

On Saturday morning Giorgi handed over the programme to Helene and Jamal to work with the group to form a flashmob action to highlight the issue of migration with the people of Orvelte. He explained that this part of the training is designed to give the participants one example of the kind of interventions they could carry out with young people in their countries.

To begin Helene and Jamal told the group a little about themselves and the kind of work that they do teaching people dance. You can see their presentation below and a short clip of Jamal working with a group of older people teaching dance.

After the introduction Jamal led the group in a small dance warm up to get them feeling active and ready to participate in creating their own flashmob action to be performed on Sunday in Orvelte.

Forming the flashmob

Over lunch Helene asked the group to think about the different art form elements which could make up the flashmob to be performed tomorrow. She explained that the art forms could things such as dance, poetry or singing and that it can be totally flexible based on what people have an interest or talent in.

The group had to think about the following questions…

  1. What art form they wanted to work in – is there someone with a particular talent or skill?
  2. Are there people who don’t want to be in the flashmob?
  3. What message do people want to get across to people about refugees and asylum seekers?
  4. How do people want to express themselves during the flashmob?
  5. Create a short 30 second format of the element that will go in the flashmob that you would like to perform

After lunch the group came back together and decided that in the flashmob there would be a particular piece of music used, along with a dance performance choreographed by Jamal, which would then be followed by a short poetry piece.

For the final activity of the day Jamal led the group in a rehearsal of the dance piece and others began to translate the poetry into English and Dutch so that it would be easily understood by people living and working in Orvelte.

Check the blog tomorrow to see the results of the flashmob – and don’t forget to like Euromove on Facebook to keep up to date with what the Not Just Numbers group are doing.

Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands presentation by Mohammed Badran

Mohammed Badran

The second guest speaker who joined the participants on Friday was Mohammed Badran. Mohammed migrated from Syria to the Netherlands and after arriving in the country started a new organisation called Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands, bringing together the Syrian community to do projects in the Netherlands. You can see his presentation and listen to the audio below.

Ter Apel application centre visit

Visiting Ter Apel

On Thursday morning the group visited the Ter Apel asylum application centre. The group were hosted by non-governmental organisation VluchtelingWerk (VWN), the Dutch council for refugees, in their building at the centre. VWN have offices in different locations and asylum centres across the Netherlands but the Ter Apel centre is the first centre asylum seekers are sent to when they arrive in the country.

Watching the film
Watching the film

When asylum seekers arrive at the centre they are given an introduction to the centre, financial matters and then the asylum process by someone from VWN. The information is given to them in a video and in a printed document which is available in many languages, the VWN volunteer or team member will also talk to the person about the process. People who are arriving also receive a full medical check.

As well as giving them an introduction, volunteers from VWN are also able to attend an asylum seekers interviews with the Dutch authorities to provide support. During these interviews the VWN will take notes of the whole interviews to check the accuracy of the IND report that has been produced. Information that VWN collect is kept on an electronic system with records for every asylum seeker and can be shared with the individual’s lawyer. VWN also provide ongoing support and can give people extra appointments if required, as well as being able to make referrals for extra medical checks through the person’s lawyer.

Entering the recreation centre
Entering the recreation centre

For a person going through the standard process of asylum applications there will be a wait of 5-6 weeks after arrival before it begins. During this time they will stay in the Ter Apel centre. When the process begins it will take eight days and as the group heard about from Michelle the previous day. People who come from countries which the Dutch government consider to be safe will go through a much quicker process and their applications will usually be rejected. There is also a different and shorter process for people who fall under the Dublin procedure.

If an application is rejected the person then has 28 days to return to their home country. There is also the possibility at this point to appeal against the decision with the help of their lawyer. They are provided with a flight and a certainly amount of money to help them do this and VWN provide support. People will receive more support if they are cooperating with the authorities in being returned to their home country, but sometimes rather than returning to their own country people prefer just to disappear.

If an application is accepted the person will then move to another centre while they wait to be provided with a place to live in the Netherlands. VWN will provide support during this time, which usually lasts a couple of months, with things like integration and being reunited with family. Every area of the Netherlands has to take a certain amount of asylum seekers and the person does not get a choice of where they will be housed.

The Not Just Numbers Group
The Not Just Numbers Group

The centre at Ter Apel was only recently constructed as a direct result of the amount of migrants which were coming into the country. It houses a maximum of around 2,000 people at a time but on the day of the visit had approximately 600 people living there. The centre was built in this remote location because the cost of land is cheap in the area and so that it would be close to the German border.

Within the centre there is a school and a medical centre, as well as a recreation building which opens several times a week.  There is also a gym which opens several times a week giving the people staying the centre the chance to get fit but also to develop a different sense of identity that doesn’t revolve around being an asylum seeker. Additionally, there is a computer suite where people can develop their ICT skills. Many of the recreation and learning activities are run by volunteers who contribute their time.

As well as supporting the asylum seekers who are in the centre, the staff and volunteers are also doing their part in supporting education and integration, hosting school visits from the local area which are guided round the centre by refugees themselves.

The group spent some time at the end of the visit thinking about what they had seen. Max explained to the group that this centre was one of a very high quality and this is not the standard situation in all asylum seeker centres across Europe and conditions can vary greatly.

Legal aid in Dutch asylum application centres

Michelle van de Scheur - Legal Aid Board Asylum Presentation

During the afternoon of day three the group were joined by Michelle van de Scheur from the Legal Aid Board in the Netherlands. She gave a presentation to the group about her experience working in the application centres in the country and how the asylum process works.

You can see Michelle’s presentation below and listen to her input using the Soundcloud embed.

The participants also began to do their country presentations today and they will be shared in the blog tomorrow.


Creating the stories and opening a debate

In debate

In the next session Max asked the participants to work individually using a set of guiding questions to begin writing a migration story which they already know about in their context. When writing their stories he asked them to think about the following things…

  • what the stories are
  • what country or community they take place in
  • what were the causes of the migration that took place
  • what was the story of the journey (routes, times and people involved)
  • what were the consequences
  • are there any links, photos or videos to back up the story
Crafting a migration story
Crafting a migration story

After lunch the group came back together to discuss their stories in groups of 4-5 people and consider the different causes and consequences. Max asked them to think about the similarities and the differences in both of these categories.

The groups fed back that the most common causes of migration from their stories were financial/economic issues, political conflict and war or civil war. Other causes that were mentioned included genocide and ethnic conflict, hunger or poverty and to generally to search for a better life.

Identifying common causes and consequences
Identifying common causes and consequences

In terms of consequences of migration the groups said that safety and survival, intolerance and discrimination, changes in a person’s identity and difficulties during the journey (unaccompanied children, violence at the border and human trafficking) were the most common. Other consequences that were mentioned included issues with language changes, financial situations (either improving or getting worse) and a basic guarantee of human rights.

Most of the group chose to tell stories about people who they know personally and Max explained that this was a good thing as it makes the stories easier to relate to. He went on to explain that in his work with young people in the UK he often asks them to research their own family histories to uncover migration stories from their heritage which enables them to build a stronger connection to the topic.

Beginning the debate
Beginning the debate

The great debate – dress code consultation

Anya explained the next activity would be a group simulation to get them familiar with the methodology which can be used with people to get them to see different sides of the same issue and put themselves in different shoes.

The scenario was the ‘dress code consultation’. Anya explained that participants were to imagine that the government of their country has decided to introduce a ban on visible religious symbols in schools across the country.

Certain groups, organisations and communities within their society oppose the proposed legislation and claim that the proposal discriminates against them. On the other hand, some organisations and groups support the government’s initiative on different grounds.

Putting your point across
Putting your point across

The government decides to organise a series of consultations to investigate the matter. Four groups have been invited to voice their opinion at a stakeholders’ meeting, first by preparing own statements and then by confronting them in an open debate.

Anya took on the role of the facilitator/host representing the government side and invites all four groups to issue statements one by one and then opening a free debate.

The participants split into four groups and took on the role of each of the interest groups that were invited to the consultation and had 15 minutes to prepare their opening statements. Each group had 3 minutes to make their statement and the other groups then had 1 minute each to respond. This was followed by an open debate where anyone was able to voice their point of view.

At the end of the activity Max explained that the technique could be used to raise different topics with groups of people and, could be especially useful when talking about migration. You can find the activity sheet here (Word doc) and the role cards here (Word doc).

Opening the manual

Opening the manual

The day began with a quick energiser to get the group ready for the first session, before Max explained the format for the day. After his introduction he gave some background information about the Not Just Numbers manual which you can find below.

Max explained that the manual is designed to use storytelling and case studies to illustrate the various aspects of migration and asylum, believing that this methodology is better to relay the situation to different people than statistics. It manual says that it is important to shows opinions and feelings to help tell the stories and raise the topic.

The manual was produced by IOM and UNHCR who worked together on it with funding from EU. It is available is a range of different languages, other translations are not currently being developed but you can contact the IOM office in your country to see if other translations can be produced.

The group discussed each of the videos for a short time exploring some of the stories and relating them to their own knowledge and experiences.

In some of the videos the person telling the story was leaving their country by choice, some for economic reasons and others were political refugees. The group identified the different reasons in each of the videos, and discussed what the legal implications for the person would be depending on the reason which had been identified.

In some of the films the person spoke about the amount of time it takes to integrate in a new country, Tino (the Italian) in the third film suggested four generations for full integration. However, this definition of integration was quite extreme in terms of losing links to your ‘home’ country in order to achieve ‘full integration’. Tino also about spoke the difficulties young people have understanding what his experience was.

In the final video Dore spoke about bureaucracy in the process of being in France. As a child he had to report every month to renew his visa, this then reduced to three months and finally once a year. This meant that it is difficult for him to plan for the future. Dore also spoke about how he lost the ability to speak his native language and this was a disadvantage as he is no longer bi-lingual. He went on to say that it is often seen as a bad thing when migrants speak in their home language but actually being bi-lingual is a positive thing when applying for jobs.

The non-formal education principles of the manual

Next Max introduced the six principles which are used with the manual with a Powerpoint presentation which you can find below. He explained that those who are often working in non-formal education will probably already be familiar with some of these principles.

As part of the introduction to the principles the group had a discussion about how human rights is implemented in different countries both in and outside of Europe, in domestic and international policy. The group discussed how in some circumstances human rights are minimised as a result of terrorism and how that can link to integration and migration matters.


This afternoon the group will begin to create their own stories and case studies based on their own experiences, which can then be used in their home countries.

Defining the terminology of migration

Defining the terminology of migration

After lunch on day one Max introduction the ‘Alphabet of Migration’ which gave an opportunity to build up a set of share definitions and understanding of the terminology related to migration. He explained that for the purposes of this exercise the term migration will cover migration, refugees and asylum seekers, in the knowledge that these three groups are different have different legal rights which will be explored in a future session.

Creating the alphabet
Creating the alphabet

In order to map the terms, Max asked the group to add words they felt were related to the topic to the list of letters of the alphabet written out on flip chart. At this stage the group was asked only to form a list of words (not sentences) that relate to the topic in some way.

Once the words has been added to the flip chart sheets, the participants broke into four groups to have deeper conversations about the terms, in order to build the ‘Wikipedia of Migration.’ Each group was given one section of the alphabet along with the terms that had been listed. In their groups Max asked them to discuss how each term relates to each participant’s context in their own country, then how it is linked to the theme of migration and finally, create a short definition to feedback to the wider group.

The Wikipedia of migration
The Wikipedia of migration

The Wikipedia of Migration

Asylum – the protection granted by a state to someone who left their home country as a refugee. It is a human right.

Accommodation – one of the basic need that you need for a life.

Bureaucracy – to get asylum you need to apply for it and you need authorities to accept you but it is not an easy process.

Communication – the better the communication is the easier it is to navigate the bureaucracy.

Culture – knowledge of a culture is important both for a migrant and for people native to a country as it supports integration.

Detention – migrants can sometime feel fear due to detention.

Education – makes people more award about migration, it can give migrants a face. It can also give migrants tools to integrate more easily and build a better life. It increases awareness of all cultures and is economically and socially good. 

Empathy – education helps to build empathy for refugees.

The Wikipedia of migration
The Wikipedia of migration

Fear – there is fear on both sides both for people native to a country and migrants. For migrants they may have fear of the country they are leaving but also about the place where they are going or of detention. For native people they may have fear about migrants due to a lack of education about them or as a result of the media. 

Gap – the gap that exists between migrants and people native to a country. This gap exists in jobs, money, language, laws and many other matters.

Hospitality – the level of hospitality which a migrant could receive in different countries. Sometimes there might be a general attitude towards migrants and this could be linked to the political regime. Even if there is a political regime which does not support migrants there may still be pocked of people who do support them. 

IDP (internally displaced persons) – someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country’s borders. They are often referred to as refugees, although they do not fall within the legal definitions of a refugee.

The Wikipedia of migration
The Wikipedia of migration

Integration – the gap between migrants and people who are native to a particular country. Different countries also have different approaches to integration.

Jobs – the group explained that in some countries migrants are only able to receive support for a certain amount of time before they must find a job.

Laws – different countries have different kinds of laws which can cause difficulties in integration and also in understanding the different systems in place for migrants.

Language – the difficulties that migrants can face with integration as a result of a gap in language.

Money – a problem accepting refugees in all the countries due to a lack (or perceived lack) of financial resources. A feeling from some people that migrants want to come to countries and use ‘our’ resources or are coming to ‘steal our jobs’
Mediterranean – one of the key regions affected.

Neglect – the group felt that there was a neglect in training volunteers or other staff to manage and support migrants. International organisations and small NGOs are playing an important role in the topic but sometimes, in Italy for example, the activities of NGOs are made difficult due to media campaigns influencing public perception.

The Wikipedia of migration
The Wikipedia of migration

Negotiation – the negotiations that take place between different countries to set the quotas of refugees that should be taken in.

Organisation – the group said that there are reports both positive and negative when it comes to organisation. Some organisations are doing good work in supporting migrants. However, organised crime benefit as a result of people smuggling and price inflation for migrants.

Quality – the quality of life which people are receiving as migrants. Sometimes they are living in refugee camps with poor sanitation or a lack of education facilities for children for extended periods of time. It is also the quality of life in the EU countries receiving the migrants, leading to some people not wanting to care about the problems of others. 
Quotas – the amount of refugees that each country in the EU is supposed to take. The group said that most countries are refusing to take their full quota and that countries negotiate the quotas between themselves.

Oppression – the group talked about the fact that some people come to Europe to leave an oppressive situation (political, economic, etc) but when they arrive they enter a new kind of oppression. For example if a migrant finds themselves in a camp or centre for a long period of time they may be living in an overcrowded situation with poor facilities and this will impact on their ability to live their life – a different kind of oppression.

Protection – the group identified three different kinds of protection one of which is refugee status. Each type of protection entitles the person to different rights but most people are only receiving humanitarian protection.

Religion – the group talked about the stereotypes which exist at the moment around religion, especially Islam. Some people have a fear of this related to the threat of terrorism and it is very important to be tolerant. In some countries there is a fear (perpetuated by the media) of migrants ‘invading’ with their religion.

Relocation – a programme for immigrants in Greece and Italy allowing refugees to be relocated to another state in the EU.

Safety – the safety of migrants living in camps or making their journey, linked closely to quality of life.

Stereotypes – the group talked about how some people stereotype others based on their religion or their migrant status, they also mention how this is linked to the media.

Tolerance – the group felt that generally there is a lack of tolerance across all of their countries. They also said that there are different levels of tolerance, for example some people just ignore the situation while others are tolerant but do not support and some are totally tolerant and supportive. They also acknowledged that tolerance should be a two way street – people in a country should be tolerant of migrants, but migrants should tolerate the culture they are joining.

Vocation training – the group felt that there was currently a shortage of people who are trained to work with refugees, and that at the moment most of the work was being done by volunteers or people who think they have enough training. For example the group said that in Italy there are a lot of lone children arriving but not the people with the skills to support them properly.

Welcome – the welcome that people receive when they arrive in a country. At the moment from the first minute they might be put in a room and questioned to check their stories. The group felt this process needed to be better to feel safe and get the help that they need (food, warm clothes, places to sleep) after their journey.

Xenophobia – people afraid of people from different countries. For example in the Netherlands these kinds of people are complaining about refugees, this is often older people. Sometimes with older people this can be linked their experiences in the past. With these people it was suggested that WW2 led to a more inward looking approach by some people which led to a lack of knowledge and awareness of the outside world. 

Tomorrow the group will begin to look at the Not Just Numbers manual and how it can be used as a tool by them in their home countries.

Getting into the programme

Speed dating

On Monday morning the group came together as a whole for the first time to begin the process of getting to know each other and to get familiar with the programme. The day kicked off with Giorgi introducing the team who will be delivering and supporting the programme this week. Giorgi will be co-ordinating the whole activity, Max will be leading the facilitation for most of the sessions with some specific inputs from specialists, Jonathan will be doing logistics, William will be in the kitchen providing the food and I (Duncan) will be documenting the activities, discussions and outcomes.

Speed dating
Speed dating

Time for a speed date

After the introduction Max asked the group to form two circles, an inner and an outer, made up of twelve chairs in each. Everyone took a chair and Max explained that they would be speed dating, having several short four minute conversations to get to know each other better, before swapping to a new partner. In each four minutes the group were given a topic as a conversation starter, these were…

Speed dating
Speed dating
  • Their journey to Orvelte
  • What they do in their daily work life
  • What they do in their spare time
  • Favourite places that inspire you (whether you have been or not)
  • Important people who inspire them
  • What brought you to this training course

After the break Max invited the participants to share some of the things which they learnt about each other during their speed dating meetings.

Discovering the elements

Max brought the group back together after the break to start unpacking the different things that are important in order to create a successful training week. He explained that they had seven topics to discuss over the next 45 minutes and needed to divide up the topics themselves. The participants then broke into smaller groups based on their interests in each topic and, after their discussions, each group fed back  what they had discussed.

In conversation...
In conversation…

One group discussed what their understanding of Erasmus+ is. They said that it is an inclusive and inspiring programme that shares knowledge internationally, allowing you to take that knowledge back to your home country. It provides an opportunity to work in teams, discover new cultures and make new friends, as well as find yourself and new things about yourself that you didn’t know before. You are able to learn by doing and enhance your competences through the programme. It also provides a way to be socially engaged in society and work together to find solutions, while building contacts and networking with people from other countries.

Unpicking Youthpass
Unpicking Youthpass

The next group discussed Youthpass and what the certification means.  They said that it is a way of recongising participation in an Erasmus+ programme. It is an actual certificate and is recognised by some organisations. Youthpass is linked to eight key competences which are required when participating in a project. The competences are cultural awareness, sense of entrepreneurship, communication in foreign tongue, communication in mother tongue, digital competence, science and mathematical, learning to learn and social and civic competence. Youthpass is done is two parts, first is the certificate which is given by the organisers of Erasmus+ activities and the second is the competences which you can personally reflect on at any time, even after the activity has finished.

Finding the tools for the job...
Finding the tools for the job…

Another group discussed the objectives of the training which have already been set. They were asked to put the objectives into the order of importance they felt they should go in. The group decided that the first objective should be to understand the realities of refugees and migrants in European countries and explaining the impact on the youth in this context. They also thought that a soft objective could sit within this to talk about the realities of refugees and migrants, not only in Europe but in their home countries as well. They felt that the second most important was to receive the training in the use of the Not Just Numbers manual, the third to be working together to develop joint projects addressing the situation with young people and the forth developing campaign materials on the topic.

Visualising the programme
Visualising the programme

The next group was looking at the benefits of non-formal learning. They said that the benefits were being able to be creative as a group, a lack of pressure to get marks or scores or fear of failure, that you always gain something. They also think you will always develop some universal skills and values, that you learn by doing and that you are able to learn by playing rather than listening to a teacher. You are able to do the activity in a different kind of environment which is unusual, and that it is an active place where you a really taking part – its fun. The non-formal methodology also gives you the chance to learn from other people and take into consideration other people’s points of view, and focus on the competences that you want to develop.

Another group discussed what their expectations for the project are. One was a sense of connection, to develop a network between people in different countries, focused on this issue of migration where there might not be policy connections. Next was to improve knowledge of the issue of migration because they felt that the media gives a lot of information but often it is not totally accurate or can be biased. Finally, there was a expectation to try and find connection solutions as citizens of Europe.

The final group created a visual representation of the programme for the week. You can see the programme in the image below.

The visual programme
The visual programme

An introduction

Hello and thanks for finding the Not Just Numbers training blog. This coming week in Orvelte in the Netherlands a group of youth workers from ten countries will be coming together in an Erasmus+ funded training course organised by NGO EuroMove.

The training is created to address the need for a youth work response to the refugee and migration crisis in Europe. Throughout the week the youth worker participants will be developing their youth work competences with the overall aim of enhancing youth involvement in working towards a positive resolution to the crisis.

Over the course of the week the group will be mainly using the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)’s Not Just Numbers manual which was developed in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR). This will be complemented with a range of other non-formal learning methodologies and group activities, designed to get the group thinking how they can have an impact on young people regarding this topic.

The overall objectives for the training are…

  • to train participants in the use of the Not Just Numbers Manual
  • to reflect on realities of refugees and migrants in partner countries and the impact of the refugee crisis on young people
  • to develop campaign activities on the theme of migration and asylum countering xenophobia, radicalisation, Islamophobia and intolerance
  • to work on joint future projects addressing the refugee and migration crisis

Each day the blog will be updated with a new post which gives detailed information about the activities which have taken place, the outcomes and any questions that the group would like to ask of the international youth work community.

Finally, let me introduce myself, I’m Duncan Hodgson and I will be attending the whole week of the Not Just Numbers training in the role of digital reporter, capturing the discussion, learning and outcomes to share with the wider community.

So be sure to come back to the Not Just Numbers blog tomorrow evening to read about the first day of the training week.