Text and photos: Red Cross
The number of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide has not been higher since the Second World War. So many asylum-seekers and migrants entered in 2015 that the Red Cross in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the UK came under extraordinary pressure.
But the associated need to support such arrivals has also prompted numerous local people to express interest in volunteering to back integration efforts by the aid organisation. Language training and help with school lessons are particularly important for integration – especially in social terms, but also to ensure participation in work and education.
Regardless of whether a person has come to a new country as a refugee, for family reunion or as an economic migrant, learning to speak and write the language will enhance their quality of life.
Many refugees and immigrants are resourceful people, but lack a local network for acquiring the language. Young migrants and unaccompanied minors need help to complete their education.
The figures show that boys aged 17-18 with an immigrant background, in particular, are less likely to complete upper secondary school. Against that background, the Red Cross had developed and implemented language training courses and learning assistance in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the UK.
The overall goal of this support is to ensure that immigrants and their children can reach a level of proficiency which allows them to participate in work, education and society as a whole. It supplements the public education system while providing a social arena where participants can form networks in the local community and avoid social exclusion.
That in turn builds happiness and affiliation, and thereby improves the health of those involved. Since both society and immigrants benefit from the latter learning the local language, such training has a socio-economic value.
Through its backing for this work, the Kavli Trust helps to strengthen the quality of life for recipients and their children and contributes to meeting a social challenge in a positive way.