COMPONENT 3: ACCESS TO Social Activities
Access to social activities is a challenge for all refugees and asylum seekers, independently of nationality, gender or age group. Due to several factors, including lack of accessibility into their community, feelings of stress and anxiety for the asylum application process, hesitation to join, lack of knowledge or financial possibilities, many asylum seekers and refugees find themselves at loss of social experiences.
Focusing on at-risk groups
A particular case is also presented by families and unaccompanied minors. Parents resettling with their children have expressed their hope for a brighter future for their kids. Similarly, unaccompanied minors applying for asylum protection on their own come with high expectations for a better future. However, integration into society is made difficult by their living situations, where unaccompanied minors and refugee homes are often located far outside the city center, leaving them marginalized and with fewer opportunities. As a consequence of the limited resources in the outer neighborhoods, families with young children and young unaccompanied minors receive limited pedagogical and educational support, in comparison to families with children enrolled in school. Generally, parents focus on their children’s growth and development, aiming at extra-curricular activities that target their children. Unaccompanied minors on the other hand hope for an educational, social and economical balance. Such activities include recreational sports, cultural events and extra-curricular projects dedicated to young audiences for personal growth.
Looking at existing initiatives that work for the betterment of youth, students and other vulnerable groups, The Welcome Card seeks to form partnerships with educational, cultural, and communal institutions within the regions it operates to provide early inclusion services to asylum seekers and refugees. Just as other initiatives, such as those of university student groups, grant students the ability to participate in activities and grown professionally within their environment, asylum seekers and refugees are encouraged to do the same. In collaboration with associations like museums, cultural centers, libraries, and recreational centers, The Welcome Card gives asylum seekers and refugees early access to existing educational and cultural institutions in the region it operates to provide them with the opportunity for immersive self-integration.
There are several ways in which The Welcome Card can be adapted to build collaborations and deliver these services using existing infrastructures and minimizing implementation costs. The same RFID technology, that is used to carry information regarding public transportation, can be adjusted to activate and revoke access to the institutions offering partnership with The Welcome Card. If this proves to too complex of a system for some institutional partners, the physical card serves as a means to identify oneself and gain entry or apply for the offered services. The solution counts on a flexible framework that allows both partners and users to choose how long the service/offer is provided or accessible. For example, a service may be offered as a part of a limited window of free service, such as free nights at the museum, or a long-term open service to all card holders, such as language courses.
The most effective impact of this solution is the social and cultural enrichment of asylum seekers and refugees. A wealth of psychological advantages come from granting access to places otherwise unexplored by this group, as they begin to experience the positive effect of being involved in a society. It would continue and strengthen the process of transformation from outsiders to well-informed and included members of communal life.
Not only does such framework present an opportunity for asylum seekers and refugees, but for local communities it becomes an opportunity to meet, inform and exchange. Locals can become ambassadors of their own community, guiding asylum seekers and refugees within their own society and creating true integration. True integration brings a wealth of intangible advantages in creating and including productive members within a society: in the long run, refugees become part of their community, providing to social welfare through taxes, sharing talents and insights, and advancing the future of culture through social collaboration.
Social and Financial Value Proposition for Asylum Seekers
- Social and cultural enrichment: becoming active members in their communities presents an opportunity for both asylum seekers, refugees and welcoming communities to share social and cultural perspectives.
- Human capital investment: investing in asylum seekers and refugees' access to places otherwise unexplored becomes an opportunity for early inclusion and long-term integration.
Social and Financial Value Proposition for Host Communities and Local Municipalities
- Sharing economy: building partnerships, encouraging the exchange of ideas and fostering integration lead to an economy of sharing that strengthens local communities and governments.
Sources and more info
Unaccompanied minors: In the case of Sweden, an unaccompanied child is a person under the age of 18 who has come to Sweden and applied for asylum without his or her parents or other legal custodial guardian. As of 2017, the highest number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum comes from Afghanistan, totaling 4328 applications to be yet processed. In 2015, the number of asylum requests filed by Afghan unaccompanied minors was 23480. In comparison, the highest number of asylum seekers in Sweden comes from Syria, where there are 3777 unaccompanied minors out of 51338 total requests.
Migrationsverket, Inkomna ansökningar om asyl, 2017. Full document can be viewed here.
Migrationsverket, Inkomna ansökningar om asyl, 2015. Full document can be viewed here.