We have done this by developing a culture of mutual shared learning and co-creation of knowledge where participants have contributed to the shaping of the programmes. This has been an essential component of Fresh Start.
While London’s target group was a mixture of settled migrants and refugees with a range of educational backgrounds, Maastricht targeted refugees, especially from Syria. With the help of their partners both LSBU and ZUYD built their education programme using the resources and course infrastructure available in their university. In the case of London this has been with the expertise of LSBU’s Business School and in the case of Maastricht with local partners like Qredits. This has enabled new workshops and modules to be developed which are tailored to the need of the migrant communities. Our ongoing Action Research has meant that we have been able to adapt swiftly to the feedback from the participants. A training toolkit is being developed to share this further.
Limburg had a more specific target group of highly educated refugees. The local terrain was also different with a wide number of organisations already involved in offering training to migrants. This led to the construction of a more fluid education programme, with a suite of possible courses and workshops to choose from according to the needs of the individual. UCLL used design thinking to connect to the views of all mediators and to the refugee communities. The mediators – such as entrepreneurship agencies, municipalities, diversity experts, language schools, representatives of the migrant communities, volunteer agencies, integration agency – gathered in the advisory board. The services they offer were clustered in the portal site. The courses they organise were linked to the topics of the Fresh Start training in the rhizome learning environment. The refugee communities were invited to participate in design days. Thus, UCLL gathered an overview of what is already offered and what is still needed. Based on this, they wrote a textbook and created a networked training trajectory linking the Fresh Start participants to experts both in the Flemish society as well as in the migrant community: futurologists, business consultants, bankers, accountants, social entrepreneurs, lawyers, therapists, fiscalists.This will allow these highly educated participants (many with masters’ degrees or doctorates) to plot their own learning pathway and navigate their own learning. It has taken a year to develop this more complex programme working closely with a large number of partners. The Fresh Start launch gained the support of the local municipality and mayor which enabled a very successful launch, with 60 participants recruited.
Sharing what we learn
Through ongoing participatory Action Research we captured the learning resulting from the programme and we will be sharing it with all our partners and the wider community. We are looking forward to learning more this year from the participants’ stories and experiences. In this way it is hoped that the Fresh Start project as a whole will be useful for similar programmes and policy makers.