The day was introduced by providing an overview of the MiFriendly Cities project, and the premiere of its ‘Reflections’ video. This video looks back at the first 18 months of the project, and aims to promote awareness of its activities, contributing to its legacy.
After being introduced the project, attendees were able to watch a panel discussion that comprised the project’s ‘alumni’. These migrants and refugees shared their valuable experiences, how the project has impacted their lives, and how they would like to see the project develop.
One client, Farisai Dzemwa – nurse and migrant – said: “Having seen the revolving door of people coming in and out of hospital, I knew the importance of taking health messages to my community to help them understand key information and combat this. MiFriendly Cities’ ‘Health Champions’ course allowed me to do so and help the NHS in the process”
Participant Panel included:
- Ake Achi , Social Innovation
- Sazini Malaba, Media Lab
- Gosia Madera, Social Enterprise
- Victor Iringere, Media Lab
- Farisai Dzemwa, Health Champions, Media Lab, Social Enterprise
- Faye Ahmeid, Social Enterprise
- Richard Roe, Health Champions
- Nosipho Mayisela, Health Champions
In turn, attendees then heard from renowned experts from across Europe, with speakers representing Greece, Germany and Italy. These not only reflected on the key learnings from MiFriendly Cities but shared their experiences of migration and integration in their own countries.
One of these experts was Manuel Hoff, Project Officer at the International Organisation for Migration. When asked about his key takeaway from the forum, Hoff said: “MiFreindly Cities’ session has shown that there are a lot of best practices out there and this is very important for an organization like my own in working on how to bring these forwards in different contexts”
Expert Panel included:
- Katharina Mattheis, Coordinator of Integration and Participation for Kiel’s Department of Migration
- Lefteris Papagiannakis, Chair of Migration and Integration of the Eurocities Network and Vice President for Refugees Issues of European Coalition of Cities Against Racism
- Martin Reeves, CEO of Coventry City Council
- Gaetano Di Palo, Chief Research Officer, Fondazione IFEL Campania
- Nazek Ramadan (chair of panel), Director of Migrant Voice
Both panels were followed by a questions and answers session, to encourage discussion and sharing of learnings.
The event also provided a platform through which to promote the MiFriendly Cities Interim Evaluation Report, which covers the project’s initial results, with a focus on the attitudes and experience of migration across the West Midlands.
Sinead Ouillon, Co-Founder of Fab Lab Coventry and Programe Leader of Coventry University’s Resilient City Initiative, presented its launch, talking about its critical findings and what these mean for the future of the project.
Some highlights include the following challenges and opportunities facing migrants and refugees in the West Midlands:
- Less than 5% of respondents of a survey of employers currently employs refugees/former refugees
- 70% of people in the West Midlands would not challenge someone else’s prejudice towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
- Social enterprises contribute £24 billion to the UK economy and employ 800,000 people
- However, the sector has limited involvement from migrants and refugees
- Lack of access to credit and funding alongside religious, gender and language barriers all contribute to the issue
- Thus, opportunities for potentially high impact and community-focused enterprises and entrepreneurs are lost
On the final day of the forum, MiFriendly Cities also delivered an interactive seminar, ‘Communication: The Back Bone for Peace’. This saw attendees exploring the challenge of language barriers in teaching, learning and contributing to our communities.
Professor Mike Hardy, Executive Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations and chair of the RISING Global Peace Forum, has said: “I think it’s really important to raise awareness about the challenge of living with the rich diversity that comes with migration… I’m very proud of our region for leading with the MiFriendly Cities project”.
As a result of its ‘interim event’ MiFriendly Cities has distributed new Stakeholder Booklets with an updated offer, made new contacts and hopes that by raising awareness of how migration can contribute to community cohesion, it can create a legacy that lasts beyond the project end in February 2021.
More about the RISING Global peace Forum.