This spring, the Estonian Refugee Council will start a series of roundtables aimed at local government specialists and expand the activities of the social enterprise Siin & Saal (Here & There) in order to encourage refugees to participate more in society and take the initiative themselves.
Refugees and people with a migration background will take the lead in many of the activities. The aim is to increase the visibility and positive image of people from other cultural backgrounds in society and to allay fears, stereotypes and prejudices related to them.
"The world is like a small village and cultural differences are a treasure. That is why we need to respect different cultures and benefit from each other's experience," project manager Celal Yilidrim, originally from Turkey, said.
Over the course of a year and a half, refugees will be organizing a series of roundtables, titled "Integration Accelerator", for specialists in six different local governments to promote the attitudes and tolerance of people working with refugees. The experience of the meetings will result in a card game that can continue to be used as teaching and training material to discuss migration and integration issues.
The project "Making People with Refugee and Migrant Backgrounds More Able and Visible" will also produce a video on tolerance and mutual understanding entitled "Similarities Between Us" to promote societal attitudes and tolerance.
Rait Parts, leader in the field of food of the Estonian Refugee Council's social enterprise Siin & Saal, said there are various plans for the new year.
"If possible, we will expand our weekly food group and offer lunch to those who have already found their way to us as we look for new friends. As spring progresses, instead of the home office, those ordering lunch will hopefully have the opportunity to visit our community space for a change," Parts said, adding that when the weather is warmer, there are plans to come out with food baskets and smaller catering offers for those wanting to have a picnic or simply enjoy different kind of food with family.
"And let's not forget - coffee and cookies have been on sale in our e-shop since December last year. The products put together by the Siin & Saal team tell a story about the home countries and culture of the authors of the recipe. As spring and summer progress, there is also hope to find more on these shelves, and if all goes well, we will expand our reach to the counters of other stores as well," Parts said.
The project is funded by the Active Citizens Fund in Estonia.
Editor: Helen Wright