“My name is Khadeja and I arrived in North Devon on 15 November 2017 ”
Khadeja’s unique story as a sponsored refugee in the UK and as an ambassador and employee of the local lead sponsor, the Pickwell Foundation, is an incredible example of sens of community and willingness to help others.
Engaging rural communities in sponsorship programmes is often seen as challenging due to the general attitude towards change and diversity often attributed to them.
Yet, a different narrative is possible, and the work conducted by dedicated community members in the North Devon area of the UK proves it.
In June 2021, the European Commission published its Rural Vision which provides a long term framework to revitalize rural territories in the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic. Following up on the SHARE Expert Group Meeting on integration in rural territories, ICMC Europe and the SHARE Network co-hosted an event on September 17th to discuss the role of migration in the Rural Vision.
Originally from the village of Azé, in Saône-et-Loire, Jean Paul Demarthe is currently retired after a rewarding career in the public sector. He now holds a seat in Azé's municipal council where he deals with a variety of affairs. In 2015, Jean-Paul decided to contribute to the integration of refugees by taking a job at the prefecture responsible for the Migrant Plan. He was very interested in the SHARE TI project from the beginning and considers it important to be able to participate in the development of integration pathways.
Ahead of the EU High Level Forum on the Protection of Afghans at Risk on 7 October 2021, and as humanitarian needs in Afghanistan continue to escalate, ICMC Europe and the SHARE network join 24 NGOs in calling on the EU to put protection at the centre of its response.
The call reiterates recommendations outlined in a joint statement released on 16 September that called on the EU and its Member States to live up to their commitments to refugee protection and humanitarian leadership, and share responsibilities with countries neighbouring Afghanistan. The upcoming Forum on providing protection for Afghans at risk, planned for Thursday 7 October, provides a key chance for them to do so.
Zozan and Khmlin are mother and daughter of Syrian origin. They arrived in France with the rest of their family in 2018 through the resettlement program. Since then, they have lived in Ayen, in Corrèze. Their positive experience of integration in a rural community encouraged them to join the SHARE TI initiative and become Ambassadors to share their stories for the benefit of others.
Maher, 22, is a resettled refugee of Syrian origin. He has been in France since May 2016. He lives with his family, which includes his parents, three brothers and two sisters, in Montceau-les-Mines, a small town of Saône-et- Loire. He is committed to sharing his experience to raise awareness among local communities and also inspire people who are on their integration journey.
As part of ongoing research conducted by the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) a study on the impact of the COVID-19 in the UK’s Community Sponsorship Scheme (CSS) concluded that with the advent of the pandemic and the introduction of social distancing and lockdown in March 2020 Community Sponsorship groups were challenged to offer alternative support to refugees in new ways. Click to read more!
In our next portrait in the series on "SHARE Rural Ambassador for Inclusive Territories", local elected representative Jérôme Perdrix speaks about what he calls a duty to welcome refugees. He strongly believes that the participation of local communities and refugees is essential to find solutions for integration.
The SHARE Network, as partner to the CoR and a member of the Cities and Regions for Integration Initiative took part in the 9th CIVEX Commission Meeting on 28th September, 2021. ICMC Europe Director Petra Hueck highlighted the need for further multistakeholder parnerships, between regions, cities and local communities, under the horizontal priorities of the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF 2021-2027).
Watch the event recording HERE
The SHARE network is pleased to introduce our first SHARE Rural Ambassador for Inclusive Territories. Ella Josiane, 32, is a refugee of Central African origin who was resettled in France at the end of 2019. She lives with her two children in a village in Saône-et-Loire. According to Ella Josiane, participating in the SHARE TI project means being able to convey a positive image of integration in rural areas, but also highlight its limits in order to collectively figure out solutions.
As humanitarian needs in Afghanistan continue to escalate, ICMC Europe and the SHARE Network together with 23 other NGOs are appealing to the EU to place protection at the centre of its response. Ahead of the Resettlement Forum, we call on EU states to expand safe pathways for people in need of protection, including through an ambitious and additional resettlement programme for Afghan refugees and a flexible use of complementary pathways to safety.
Oléron is the largest French island on the Atlantic coast near La Rochelle. It is famous for its beaches, landscapes and oysters, but many people are unaware of the solidarity shown by some of its inhabitants, who have been involved in giving refugees a citizen’s welcome since 2015. Follow the link to read more!
The importance of sponsor and refugee’s active engagement in community sponsorship programmes design, implementation and monitoring was a key highlight of the June 2021 monitoring workshop hosted by Caritas International and the SHARE Network. In this workshop, best practices in the monitoring of community sponsorship programmes, and especially refugee and sponsor engagement within that framework, were presented by speakers from Canada, Belgium, France and Italy. Click here to read more!
The virtual roundtable on Refugee Sponsorship and Student Pathways, co-organized by the SHARE Network and Caritas Italiana on 30 June 2020 provided insights into some of the programmes currently implemented in both Europe and Canada. It also gave the opportunity to Yohannes, a refugee student arrived in Italy to continue his studies, to share his experience. Follow the link to read more about the event and Yohannes' story!
In Germany, community sponsorship has been implemented under the "NesT – New Start in a Team" pilot programme since May 2019, with the active participation of SHARE QSN Project partner DiCV Cologne. Click here to read about the activities of the sponsor group of the St. Gereon parish in the neighborhood of Cologne-Merheim, and the story of Shurook, the first refugee to arrive in Germany via the NeST programme.
On 30 June 2021 Caritas Italy and the SHARE Network will organise the SHARE Quality Sponsorship Network (QSN) roundtable to take stock of current approaches, frameworks and practices being developed, and focus on rights-based approaches offering durable solutions for refugee students. Click here to read the agenda!