Dr Caroline Oliver, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences is part of a successful bid led by Utrecht city council to secure €2.87 million from the EU Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme to develop the integration of asylum seekers into society.
Posted: 17 May 2017
The Utrecht Refugee Launchpad is a three-year initiative which aims to develop a more inclusive approach to asylum seekers' reception, encouraging integration from day one through encouraging connections to be built in the local neighbourhood and equipping them with skills.
A new centre has been opened in the city to provide living quarters for both refugees and local young people together and to encourage them to live, learn and develop ideas together. The centre will offer training courses in English language and entrepreneurship to inhabitants, as well as coaching and networking opportunities with local businesses. They will also be able to participate in social activities and events together with those in the neighbourhood, such as gardening and cooking to encourage relationship building.
The initiative has three desired outcomes: better social cohesion and evidence of positive relationships developing in the neighbourhood, improved skills in language and entrepreneurship to enhance their future prospects whether they gain status or have another outcome and promote better wellbeing and self-reliance for asylum seekers through this reception experience.
Dr Oliver, an expert in transnational migration, welfare and integration, will be working with Utrecht City Council and a range of local stakeholders coordinating the project. Leading the research and evaluation, she is working in partnership with Dr Sarah Spencer from the University of Oxford to understand the success of the model and provide an understanding of how the project works, producing key resources for other cities across Europe to be able to adapt the project to their local situations.
"This project is a novel approach to an ongoing issue;" Dr Oliver explains, "It turns on its head the idea that asylum seekers should wait passively for a decision on their status and instead it enables them to begin processes that might facilitate integration from the minute they arrive."
The EU UIA is designed to provide areas throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to solve urban challenges. The Utrecht Refugee Launchpad is one of 17 successful bids from European cities.
The Department of Social Sciences at the University of Roehampton is rated one of the best in the UK for the impact of its Social Sciences research and has a range of outstanding undergraduate and postgraduate courses in subjects including sociology, human rights, and law and criminology.
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