Sharing methods for effective inclusion and empowerment

One of EME project's transnational partners is ABF, Workers' Educational Association in Sweden. In addition to taking part in the EME project activities, ABF also runs its own ongoing transnational project, Exchange for Empowerment. The aim of the EFE project is to empower newcomers in Europe by sharing effective methods of inclusion and to put together a method book of the best methods.  

The idea of sharing methods was initiated by ABF. The background for the idea lies in the 2015 situation where increased amounts of asylum seekers arrived in Sweden. ABF intensified its efforts to empower people through study circles in all fifty ABF branch organisations in Sweden. The study circle, where people meet and learn through the experiences and knowledge of every participant, is a democratic way of learning as every participant is involved in how the training is conducted.   

In 2015, ABF was convinced that there were a lot of good methods used in the European that welcomed large amounts of asylum seekers. According to ABF, it would be a waste of experiences not to share them with each other. 

In this blog, we get an introduction to two Italian methods of empowerment ABF has encountered on their study visits. 

Inspiring visits to MateraHub and COOSS                           

ABF visited MateraHub in Italy in September 2018. MateraHub is a cooperative in the region of Basilicata and it’s a hub of training, support and organizing social cooperatives and organisations active in the culture and creative industries. They focus on arranging activities for people who are exposed to various forms of stress, alienation and discrimination, for example asylum seekers.  

MateraHub presented a method from the Erasmus+ project “Fake it till you make it - Building your employability skills through theatre”. The method is based on participatory theatre and community art. The Fake it method is a workshop that strengthens those who are far from the labour market. The workshop uses drama and theatre and finishes with a performance done by the participants based on their own life stories. In the workshop, the participants get a chance to work on their soft skills important for social inclusion and employability. ABF and other partners experienced the method during their visit and found it very interesting and powerful.             

Another social cooperative ABF visited is COOSS in Ancona, Italy. COOSS has various activities for the inclusion of newcomers in the society. The empowerment of migrants is one of their three missions. They teach Italian to migrants in small groups. They have also introduced separate language clubs for women.  

Francesco Perri (COOSS) and Mikael Nielson (ABF Östergötland) discussing Italian courses for newcomers.

To integrate the newcomers in the Italian society and make it possible for newcomers and locals to meet, they use a method called Living Library developed in Milan. It has been successful in creating encounters between people from different cultures.  

The newcomer decides together with a teacher which episode from his or her life story will be told in a Living Library event at a café. The event makes it possible for newcomers to practice Italian, to tell their story and to meet locals. This meeting can be the first step towards a friendship.              

Both methods empower and include people in a human and creative way. They were very inspiring for the ABF representatives. These study visits show the importance of sharing good methods for a sustainable and welcoming Europe. The guidebook with methods will be published in the end of 2019. 

Organisations involved in the EFE project (ESF): Five local ABF branches from Sweden (ABF Norr, ABF Södertälje, ABF Örebro, ABF Östergötland, ABF FyrBoDal), MateraHub (Italy), COOSS (Italy), La Ligue (France), and WEA (Great Britain) 

Eva Lindgren, ABF