Summary: A dedicated orientation programme for newly arrived Syrian refugees
Where: London, UK
Collaborators: Refugee Action and local partners
Orientation takes place during the arrivals week and is carried out after staff and volunteers at Refugee Action have provided refugees with the essentials (tenancy, housing benefits, job-seeking appointments, GP registration, Home Office, basic utilities). Firstly, local tours are given. These involve walking with newcomers around their immediate area and showing them local shops, markets, supermarkets, discount stores, local parks, mosques/churches, post offices, payment points (to collect benefits before a bank account has been set up), and transport links.
James Peto from Refugee Action feels that parks are important but sometimes difficult to find; therefore, he makes a point of including these in the tours. On the first trip, there is usually an element of teaching newcomers to London about transport systems, currency, money saving, safeguarding, and road safety. James explains: “We want this to be a friendly experience and try to take them to at least some places that speak Arabic and may seem more familiar to them so they are encouraged to explore by themselves as opposed to feeling daunted by the foreign environment.”
The second orientation is for the wider area. In London, volunteers and staff at Refugee Action take clients to Shepherd’s Bush Market, where there are several Syrian shops and restaurants. Specific itineraries will reflect discussion between Refugee Action staff members and the refugees who participate in the projects.
Summary: Curated online and offline information hub for refugees and asylum seekers
Where: Berlin, Germany
Collaborators: place / making, Association for Socio-Cultural Work e. V.
Bezirksamtes Reinickendorf, Albatros gGmbH
In 2015, at a high point in Syrian refugee arrivals in Germany, the Integration Commissioner of Berlin-Reinickendorf outlined a key challenge: “The problem are not missing services for refugees but ways to better communicate the existing ones where the people are actually living.” InfoCompass is an integrated approach, supporting information flows between asylum seekers and refugees, professional supporters, organisations, and volunteers.
It provides a service which collects, structures and locates support and activity offers and sources of general information. Online information mapping is supported by physically located and staffed Info Points throughout Berlin. InfoCompass provides a crowdsourced, collaborative gathering of information; crucially, however, this is supported as much as possible by an editorial team which check entries and provide good-quality translation.