Initatives for the social inclusion of migrants: a Danish example

The Danish Red Cross is implementing a variety of innovative projects to enchance the social inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees. For example, the ‘Fast track to employment’ programme aims to help asylum seekers in Denmark to find a job or internship. We spoke to Project Manager, Sira Støhrmann, to learn more about the work carried out by the Danish Red Cross to support the integration of refugees at the local level.

Sira, why and how is the Danish Red Cross involved in this area of work?

“Refugees are people that have been forced to flee and seek safety in a different country. Some of them have been through horrendous journeys, which make them particularly vulnerable. The Danish Red Cross is engaged in receiving refugees and supporting their inclusion in Danish society.

Cooperating with more than 80 local Red Cross branches across Denmark, we are working to provide concrete solutions to integration challenges at local level, as well as to promote new opportunities for refugees living in our country. With a view to increasing exchange and dialogue between people, most of our work towards refugees is volunteer based. Volunteerism is a powerful means to promote social inclusion, benefiting individual refugees and society as whole”.

Do you have specific programmes dedicated to supporting the social inclusion of refugees?

“We have several projects that aim to facilitate the social inclusion of refugees in Denmark. The ‘buddy programme’ that was launched at the beginning of 2016 is one of them. Its objective is to pair each newly arrived refugee that has received a residence permit with a buddy in their host community in order to nurture durable, cross-cultural acceptance, dialogue, and ties”.

How do you work with the local Red Cross branches in Denmark?
 
“It is important to recall that social inclusion of migrants takes place at the local level. Therefore, all our activities take place through our local branches. Currently, the Danish Red Cross has more than 200 local branches scattered all over the country. All the branches implement activities in cooperation with their municipalities. Promoting and developing partnerships with local communities and authorities helps us to cultivate a climate of mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation which is conducive to more effective initiatives in the field of social inclusion.

The activities which are implemented are organised around a local volunteer manager from the community. These managers are trained, supported and supervised by professional staff from the Danish Red Cross Headquarters”.

What are the next steps of the Danish Red Cross in the social inclusion sector?

“Currently, we are looking to develop an initiative to help tackle the challenges that are faced by refugees when they try to enter the labour market. The difficulties they encounter can be linked to limited knowledge of the local language, their lack of professional network, or the complications related to getting their skills and qualifications recognised”.