SMI / Senior volunteers for migrant integration
Erasmus+ programa / Strateginės partnerystės

SMI / Senior volunteers for migrant integration

Informacija lietuvių kalba ruošiama...

Europe is facing the biggest migrant crisis since the end of World War II: never before have so many people fled political persecution and war as today. Tens of thousands of desperate people from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are seeking refuge in Europe, striving for a better life for themselves and their families.

On the other hand, the population in EU countries is aging faster than in any other region, with the number of elderly people growing steadily in relation to the working-age population. However, many of the retired Europeans still have potential if not to stay in the workforce, then to contribute to the society in many other ways, such as active citizenship and volunteering, bringing with them their personal qualities of patience, wisdom and understanding, as well as a wealth of life and professional experience.

The project consortium involves countries having different traditions, experiences and practice in dealing with issues of migrant/ refugee integration and aging society. Germany and France, representing the strongest economies in the EU, are traditionally the greatest immigration destinations and both have a long history of immigration; Greece, being the first EU country of arrival in the light of the current migrant crisis, has to cope with the highest numbers of refugees on a daily basis; meanwhile Finland and Lithuania, being geographically close countries have similar long traditions of migration predominantly from neighboring countries mostly caused by economic and/ or family reasons, and thus are not so experienced in accepting refugees. All partner countries support the political opinion that the migrants and refugees could help boost the EU economy, and at the same time solve the problems of population aging.

Speaking of active citizenship as a way to solve social problems of aging society, partner countries have different experiences and traditions, which they could share and learn from each other. Situation analysis carried out by the partners clearly reveals that in Germany, France and Finland there is a well-established long-lasting tradition in civic engagement of older generations: in Germany, seniors are actively involved in volunteering in various sectors and organisations; they have free access to support structure such as Volunteer academies where they can learn about their rights as volunteers, legal obligations of volunteer organizations, NGO management etc.; in the Stuttgart area, about 60 % of all senior citizens are spending between 4 to 12 hours a week in volunteering activities; in France, about 30 % of older persons are engaged in volunteering, mostly in sports and culture sectors; in France public policies and organisations, including employers’ associations and pensions agencies are actively encouraging senior volunteering by taking into account the diversity within the retirees’ population and promoting active aging as a positive way to envisage the end of working lives and retirement; in Finland, up to 40 % of population aged 60+ are engaged in volunteering spending up to 20 hours per week in social and community service. Although other partner countries – Lithuania and Greece can not yet be characterized as countries of civically highly engaged seniors (mostly for economic reasons), however in both cultures for ages the elderly have been treated with great respect and pride, valuing their wisdom, wealth of life and professional experience, and this deep-rooted tradition can be mutually beneficial to the partnership and a society as a whole.

In light of the above, the project consortium was made up of organisations from different countries having diverse traditions, experiences and practice in dealing with global problems such as migrant crisis and population aging. Transnational nature of this project will help to efficiently address global problems, at the same time will provide benefits to participating organisations through sharing their experiences and learning from each other.

The project pursues a twofold aim: to contribute to the successful integration of migrants / refugees into the host societies with the help of seniors and to tackle the social exclusion of older people through volunteering services to migrants. To accomplish the above aim the partnership will undertake the following objectives:

-strengthening  senior volunteers’ active citizenship and volunteering skills through the training based on the training programme developed by the partnership
-enhancing host country language learning and orientation process of migrants/ refugees through the provision of the developed social and civic integration tool–guide for migrants (App) as well as offering teaching/ mentoring support by the trained senior volunteers
-raising public awareness on the issues related to migration and aging societies using the developed project film reflecting on the unique experiences of the project participants - senior volunteers and migrants/refugees.

- Soros International House (project coordinator), Lithuania
- Medardo Coboto Treciojo Amziaus Universitetas, Lithuania
- ifa Akademie, Germany
- Anmiro Oy, Finland
- DIAN, Greece
- GSVO 95, France

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