Vienna has achieved a lot by accepting and integrating refugees. The EU-funded CORE project is aimed at helping further professionalise integration processes and establishing a new kind of cooperation between the city authorities, NGOs, and volunteers. Urban Innovation Vienna has been involved right from the start and is now providing expertise, background information, and suggestions for further development with an “Empowerment Think Tank”.
CORE Integration in the Centre creates space for innovative approaches to facilitating life in the city for refugees from day one. In this sense integration offerings from public institutions, NGOs, and voluntary initiatives are brought closer together and pooled. The CORE office in the 15th district is the place where these new forms of integration and social inclusion are tried out and put into practice – it is therefore the central impulse generator for further developments in the integration field.
One central characteristic of CORE is “User Involvement” – Refugees are therefore regarded as citizens of the city who are actively incorporated in the development of offers and services. Refugees act as experts for their own cause – selected individuals are trained as mentors and then support other refugees, provide knowledge and networks, and make arrival and integration easier.
CORE places a particular focus on the labour market, living, and education. In this way, refugees are prepared for the Austrian labour market even during the asylum process - through the development of a database for registering skills, refugees are supported in career planning, training and support programmes are offered with refugees with pedagogic experience in order to quickly give them the chance to use their skills in Austrian educational institutions. Furthermore, support for volunteers involved in refugee work is being further developed and a housing-first programme is being implemented.
Constant reflection and further development are core elements of CORE. Urban Innovation Vienna significantly contributes to this by way of an Empowerment Think Tank (ETT). The ETT creates the framework for the continual support and evaluation of measures and strategies, creates the chance to identify “bottlenecks” and problems, and to develop sustainable solutions based on these. “User involvement” is also practised in the ETT – two employees who have experienced displacement themselves are involved and contribute their expertise. Core elements of the work of the ETT are, for example, analysing and observing international approaches and strategies in terms of refuge & asylum, implementing discursive discussion and development formats, developing dossiers and surveys with adaptation and innovation proposals, and analysing urban strategies in detail within the scope of fact-finding missions. In summary, this will lead to a knowledge, experience and innovation pool for Viennese integration and diversity policy over the coming years.
For more information go to www.refugees.wien.
The CORE project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.