Summary: Urban and countryside walks for newly arrived students and refugees
Where: Plymouth, UK
Initiated by: START: Students and Refugees Together
Website: www.studentsandrefugeestogether.com; @STARTplymouth
START based in Plymouth and Cornwall supports the orientation and settlement of refugees in the city and their transition ‘from people in need, to self-reliant contributors to their local communities’. The START model of working brings together students on placements from professional programmes such as social work and occupational therapy with refugees and people seeking asylum, all of whom might be new to Plymouth. The ambition is to support an environment where people can use and develop skills, develop new connections and ultimately build more cohesive communities.
‘STARTWalking’ is an initiative that involves a series of walks (roughly quarterly) undertaken by staff, students and refugees, giving all a chance to get to know both the city's green spaces and the nearby countryside. As well as its proximity to Cornwall and Dartmoor, Plymouth has a very dramatic coastal location. The programme introduces the walkers to this beautiful resource, getting to know the character and history of the landscape, building their confidence in getting around, and hopefully helps them develop a sense of attachment to their new home. It is also an opportunity to make new friends within the refugee community and outside, exchange experiences and sometimes share memories of home countries.
START Walking has produced a guidebook highlighting nine walks in and around the city. It provides practical information on transport, information on historical heritage and the local wildlife that can be enjoyed during the walk. This beautifully illustrated booklet can be used as a resource for individuals, friends and groups – newcomers and old-timers in the city!
Summary: Inspiration, training and support in establishing own gardening projects
Where: Berlin, Germany
Collaborators: Die GRÜNE LIGA Berlin and Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt
The project entitled ‘Growing together - gardening as a contribution to integration’ is an initiative run by the Green Liga and supported by the Berlin Senate. It aims to include all Berliners who are interested in community growing and developing gardening skills. Local associations, neighbourhood groups, cooperatives, businesses, schools, shelters, refugee homes, disability support, and all interested citizens are welcome to develop their own gardening initiatives. Green Liga inspires, motivates and supports new gardening projects in local communities by organising seminars and workshops on community gardening as well as providing individual and community consultations.
In 2016, over 20 community gardening initiatives were undertaken throughout Berlin as part of the project: flowerbeds in courtyards, community gardens in local neighbourhoods and in emergency shelters, and school projects. Green Liga also runs a competition for the best gardening initiative that champions inclusion, integration and wellbeing.
Summary: Riverside food bar and cultural venue run by refugees
Where: Warsaw, Poland
Collaborators: Local activists
The ‘Kitchen from a Conflict Zone’ is not just a common truck food bar. Run by refugees, it is an open-sky restaurant and informal outdoor eating venue with a convenient sitting space located adjacent to the riverbanks and a busy pedestrian promenade, which is near to sandy beaches and volleyball courts.
Jarmiła Rybicka, one of the founders, says that the project aims to enable refugees not only to be productive, but also to gain confidence in going out and being present in the public spaces of the city. Jarmiła helps each of the workers to obtain the right work permit, and supports them in dealing with local administrative processes. Currently, Jarmiła’s team consists of 11 refugees, who either cook in the kitchen or contribute to the project in other ways, drawing on their own talents and skills. The team is mixed and represents different backgrounds, currently including women from Chechenia, Nepal, Balorus, Ukraine and Congo and men from Algeria and Egypt.
Every day, the ‘Kitchen from a Conflict Zone’ enables spontaneous encounters between refugees and Warsovians, offering delicious meals and snacks from the home countries of the kitchen’s cooks. Thanks to the flexible table and plant arrangements, it offers a welcoming, open aspect as well as a sense of intimacy. For visitors to the Warsaw riverbanks, the kitchen serves as an invitation to explore the richness of the heritage that newcomers bring to Poland, taste the food, and enjoy a conversation. In the current Polish political environment, comprising hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers, this grassroots initiative offers a small-scale possibility of inclusion, integration and welcome.