The Europe 2020 goals for a more inclusive Europe with higher social integration and community cohesion are more important than ever in light of increasing societal tension, linked to the economic crisis, immigration & refugee crisis and increasing multi-ethnicity communities etc. In June 2018 the UNHCR stated that there were 70 million people who has been forcibly displaced as a result of conflicts, violence and human rights violations. In recent years, Turkey and Spain have been well known to have taken in vast number of refugees.
Spain in 2018 breaking a historic record with over 54,000 asylum applications and Turkey hosting almost 4 million Syrian refugees. Ireland pledged to accept 4,000 refugees through EU resettlement and relocation programmes, while Denmark and Finland have just recently resumed relocation of refugees within their countries and it seems that there is no end to the refugee crisis in sight.
Increasing political, religious and economic tensions have an impact on every individual, regardless of our immunity to the everyday effects. We see this impact through unemployment, violence, radicalisation and health problems. Duncan Pederson, “not enough attention has been paid to the local patterns of distress being experienced and the longterm health impact and psychosocial consequences of the various forms of political violence against individuals, communities, or specific ethnic groups.” With such high stakes we should be investing our time and resources into a common ground, a solution that can be utilised by one and all.
Mediation is a tool which is underutilised by many countries, communities and wider education and support groups, the main reason being a lack of understanding and education surrounding this topic. In line with the mass influx of refugees, our every-changing political and cultural landscape we are always going to experience tensions and conflict, it is how these conflicts are met which will shape the future of our society. Communities in strife, and minority ethnic, refugee groups are all facing similar barriers and we have a solution which can help to break down these barriers.
Through our outputs, starting with our Good Practice Guide, which will outline the best practices in mediation, Educators, community workers, volunteers and refugees will be educated and empowered to provide communities with a voice. They will use peer-to-peer mediation and education with their fellow community members; thereby fostering inclusion, diversity, equality and intercultural understanding in their societies. As an additional benefit, the process itself is empowering for the learners, community activists and local community members who take part, as they gain vital knowledge, skills, and understanding, useful for their personal and career development.
Our Include Me project has a clear aim: empower learners, activists and migrants to become peer-to-peer mediators in their communities and wider area.