'Stories of Hope' - Diagrama Head of Professional Standards Speaks at the ‘Active Society – Innovative Solutions - 2017’ conference
On 11 October 2017 Nathan Ward, Diagrama’s Head of Professional Standards gave a talk entitled ‘Stories of Hope’ at the Active Society – Innovative Solutions – 2017: EU Integration and Migrants' Rights conference held in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The conference brought together scholars, educators, practitioners and experts working in social work, psychology, education and the law to share knowledge and ideas to promote integration and migrants’ rights, responsibilities and social inclusion.
In his talk Nathan, a former immigration centre manager, spoke about a number of innovative grass-roots projects from across the UK, where refugees, migrants and local communities have worked together to overcome the barriers to integration such as poor English skills, homelessness, disability, unemployment, discrimination and the mental trauma suffered from war, torture or sexual violence.
The projects included mentoring schemes and classes to build English language skills and employability, arts and cultural projects enabling people to make social connections and share experiences, and group that makes radio programmes to help refugees navigate life in the UK and boost communication. All were stories of migrants and local people working together to help each other, seeing integration as a two-way process.
The conference included speakers from across the EU and finished with reflections of real life integration experiences from two immigrants – young men from Bulgaria and Azerbaijan who had settled in Lithuania and who have since started their own business.
This conference was one of the events of the European project “EuroSol – European Citizens for Solidarity” (under the EU funding scheme Europe for Citizens). The project aims to bring together members of society from all backgrounds and origins in debates, with a view to giving them the opportunity to contribute to the refugee crisis policy-making process and to propose concrete solutions to combat the stigmatisation of immigrants, foster tolerance and empathy and bring about more cohesive, respectful, peaceful and tolerant societies.