“Unfortunately, state and local authorities can only provide low level and short-term support for refugees and persons granted subsidiary protection. Projects funded by the ERF make it possible to provide regular social, legal and psychological support for target groups,” says Sandra Zalcmane, the leader of the society “Shelter “Safe House””.
The project “Latvia – my home” provided refugees with skill development programmes, which included obtaining information about Latvia and available services, the social safety net in Latvia, employment, education, healthcare system, the role of non-governmental institutions in providing support for refugees and other topics they were interested in.
In parallel, the experts of the society have visited five local Latvian governments and provided training on the integration of refugees and persons granted subsidiary protection to more than 100 local government employees from Riga, Preili, Ogre, Sigulda and Salacgriva.
Gita Miruskina, the lawyer of the society: “The participants of the seminars think that the government`s attitude and the willingness to welcoming refugees is neutral or rather negative. Meanwhile, citizens were said to be have the most negative attitude towards welcoming refugees in municipalities. The main obstacles listed were the country`s overall economic situation, unemployment, tension in ethnic/national issues and lack of awareness of asylum issues. In the opinion of the employees, a change in attitude could be achieved by ensuring funding for refugee integration projects and educational and informative campaigns. The survey of the participants of the seminar showed that the public would be more accepting and open to gaining new knowledge and experience, if local governments were in regions. Meanwhile, the government of Riga has already been in contact with this target group and are aware of the workload. They recognised that any integration events require additional funding.”
One of the cornerstones of integrations is learning the Latvian language. “To help refugees and persons with subsidiary protection who have been granted asylum in Latvia to be a step closer to independent life, this september we continued the Latvian language courses started in previous years with the support of the ERF. This means that the target group had the possibility to continue the learning process with a familiar teacher. The language training is based on topics relevant to the target group, such as arranging formalities in Latvian, as well as introducing them to the history and culture of Latvia, in order to improve their understanding of Latvia and facilitate the development of a social network and integration in a new environment. The project included Latvian language classes and conversational club activities. The clients were being prepared for the national language exam and three of the clients used this opportunity and sat the exam. There were 31 people participating in the training. There were both diligent and less diligent listeners, but it has to be stressed that the desire and motivation to study is there. However, the problem is to sustain this level of motivation throughout the duration of the training,” says Alvis Skenders, head of the project “Language – the path to integration II”.
The ERF projects “Latvia – my home” and “Language – the path to integration II” started on the 1st September 2012 and finished on the 31st May 2013.
Project is financed by the EU. This publication is supported by the European Refugee Fund. Responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the society “Shelter “Safe House””.
|Picture (from left):
Gunta Vīksne, project "Latvia - My Home" support person/curator at society "Shelter "Safe House""
Laura Jansone, expert in asylum seeksr` origin countries matters - COI expert at PMLP
Lena Stigsdotter, migraation officer at Migrationsverket
Rasa Saliņa, Public Relations Consultant and Practitioner
Sandra Zalcmane, chairperson of society "Shelter "Safe House""
Starting from November 1, 2011 NGO Shelter “Safe House” launches the project “I’m Staying in Latvia-II” co-financed by the European Refugee Fund (ERF).
The goal of the European Refugee Fund (ERF) co-financed project “I’m Staying in Latvia-II” is to support the adaptation and integration of refugees and persons who have been granted alternative status in the society of Latvia.
Within the framework of the project refugees and persons who have been granted alternative status will receive social, medical, psychological and material support as well as other assistance; legal advice to promote employment and find housing also will be offered.
During the project Skills development programs will be realized in which refugees will be offered to regularly receive support from professionals in order to raise their motivation to take a more active role in solving their own problems.
Educational seminars regarding the issues of the integration of refugees and persons who have been granted alternative status in Latvia will take place in 5 municipalities as a follow-up to the last year activities started in the municipalities in Latvia. The seminars are planned to take place in the beginning of 2012. Seminars will deal with such themes as refugee employment, culture shock and culture dialogue, starting a new life after being granted refugee status, the European refugee and asylum policy to show a two way integration process and communication. A film about refugee life in Latvia that was produced within the ERF project in 2009 also will be screened.
“I’m Staying in Latvia-II” is a follow-up project to the previously carried out projects supported by the European Refugee Fund.
Project will be carried out over a 6 months period from November 2011 until April 2012.
Project is financed by the EU and co-financed by the Latvian state.
Project manager Sandra Zalcmane