The RISE (Refugees Ideas & Solutions for Europe) Network
The project in brief
Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Hungary, German, Spain, Ireland, UK, Malta, Belgium and Greece
The project started in 2016 and was completed in 2018 when funding from the Advocate Europe Award ended, but the network continues to operate, working hard to reinforce & enhance the goals it had originally set.
The RISE network is a refugee network created in 2016, led by refugees in different European countries. Rise represents the authentic voices of refugees, where refugees campaign for themselves.
We created the basis for a refugee and migrant network across Europe to share their knowledge and experience, to engage with migration and social cohesion and to advocate at national and European level.
- The network’s focus is on refugees’ empowerment, raising awareness, advocacy and inclusion.
- Network members enhance their knowledge on concrete policies and methodology and can actively promote their ideas for solutions by participating in various fora, platforms, etc.
- The network empowers refugee and migrant communities as actors who can contribute their expertise to their inclusion process.
- Refugee and migrant groups are proactive partners whose voice, ideas, solutions and expertise will be taken into account.
- Better conditions for refugees encouraging integration and relation with European citizens.
- All decisions are made jointly by the network members.
The importance of the RISE network is multidimensional, the impact it has had on refugees lives has been evident in various aspects. The network has contributed to the change in the way refugees perceive themselves within the European context and within the local community. At the beginning of the crisis, thousands of people moved to various European countries and were immediately assisted through the Emergency Response Mechanism. This, however, had a negative impact on refugees as it made them feel that they do not need to organize themselves and be active in the local community. RISE has always tried to promote active participation to raise and improve the issue of belonging, self-organizing & self advocacy with the ultimate aim of helping refugees become active citizens at both national and European level. Through awareness-raising and dissemination of proper information, we promoted the idea that refugees are not the essence of the problem but an essential part of the solution. This has created strong links in local communities and improved refugees' daily lives.
The RISE network aims at reducing discrimination and prejudices towards refugees by deconstructing old narratives on refugees and creating new perceptions in societies.
The ultimate goal of RISE is that refugees will have a decent life in Europe as full member of the society, self-determined and recognized as human beings with skills, experiences, ideas and thoughts.
Funding from the Advocate Europe Award until March 2018.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- Disseminate information regarding legal and social issues among refugee communities.
- Establish and consolidate cooperation with organizations, which provide information regarding refugee issues (legal, social).
- Organize informational events and lectures for refugee communities.
- Support refugee communities in self-organization (show successful examples from different countries).
- Enhance their ability to participate in the public discussion.
- Write statements, petitions, reports on refugee issues and disseminate them at EU- (parliament, ECRE etc.) and national level (authorities, MEPs etc.).
- Collect stories, testimonies of refugees and disseminate them via social media, events, etc.
- Organize European and national campaigns aiming at raising awareness about the severe situation of refugees in Europe.
- Organize European and national campaigns to promote new refugee narratives (human beings with knowledge, experience, ideas etc.).
- Establish dialogues with EU and national stakeholders.
- Organize visits at schools, universities and other institutions.
- Establish and consolidate cooperation with stakeholders (authorities, organization, NGOs).
- Facilitate and promote contacts and exchange possibilities between refugees and stakeholders, national/local authorities and local population.
- Promote the active participation of refugees in social, political and cultural events.
- Mediate between newly arrived refugees and representatives of host societies (bridge-makers).
- Advocate Europe
- Greek Forum of Refugees
- Refugee & migrant communities and organizations
Challenges and how they were overcome
The challenges we faced were many and of a wide variety.
Initially, one of the main obstacles was to inform and raise awareness within the refugee / migrant communities themselves regarding European legislation, culture and society, while at the same time educating the refugees / migrants about their rights and obligations in Europe.
In addition, a major difficulty was the lack of funding to bring people together to create the RISE network.
Finally, it is important to point out that it has been difficult to reach out and get the support of civil society organizations in order to be able to hear the voices of refugees and establish contact with decision-makers.
Initially, we made a great effort to establish appropriate contacts with various civil society organizations.
With their support and the support of ECRE we came into contact with various institutions, foundations and networks in order to strengthen our network, strategic planning in advocacy issues as well as the resources we would need for our financial support. The idea of RISE was one of the winners of the Advocate Europe Idea Challenge, which granted us the resources to set up and implement our meetings. We had capacity building sessions with our members through workshops, lectures and conferences, while also reaching out to networks outside of Europe which share our goals, such as TMDD (Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue).
Results of the Good Practice
- Refugee communities are mobilized and actively engaged with EU policies affecting refugees.
- Refugees gain more knowledge on concrete policies (national and European) and methodology.
- Authorities, NGOs and local populations learn from refugees’ expertise.
- Refugee communities have an active network and act at the European level.
- Holding consultations with refugee communities/groups by collecting the main issues and challenges refugees are facing in Europe today and possible solutions.
Yonous Muhammadi, President of the Greek Forum of Refugees & Coordinator of the RISE network