European Youth Portal
Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.

ACCESS: Enhancing political participation of migrant youth

Are you a young person of immigrant background? Do you think that certain things in Finland should change? ACCESS project is for you!

ACCESS is aimed at enhancing political participation of immigrant youth, and it was launched in 2014 by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Although primarily the project is aimed at youth of third country immigrant origin, it is open to all young people interested in becoming politically active citizens through direct lobbying of decision makers. The project is active in five countries: Finland, Romania, Czeck Republic, France and Spain.

 

Current and future projects

 

To date at least two projects are being developed by ACCESS youth. “School food campaign” has its own Facebook page where you can post photos of your school dinners and comment on it. The aim is to collect information on the existing school food options and then discuss the quality and services of different school dinner providers.

 

The youth is also following up their proposition to the Ministry of Education in developing the system for reporting discrimination abuse in schools. The so-called “Racism button” is the idea based on the existing reporting mechanism for misuse of development funds at the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs. You can join the discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #rasismi nappi.

 

Ideas are exchanged and future projects are planned by using various social media channels. Some interesting new events are planned prior to the Finnish parliamentary elections in spring 2015. So if you feel you would like to be heard and share your own concerns or ideas for improving certain aspects of your day-to-day life, join the team!

 

Youth empowerment in practice

 

In each participating country Thematic Working Teams were formed from young migrant participants. In Finland twenty participants of ages between 13 and 20 years were chosen.  Four so-called Migrant Youth Resource Persons from the group of 22 to 29 years of age were recruited and received national as well as transnational training in Brussels, so that they are competent to act as peer facilitators of Thematic Youth Teams. The teams in Finland agreed on a specific thematic focus for their work. Team participants received training and, with support from project partners, were able to formulate national recommendations on enhancing migrant youth active political participation and organize capacity-building activities for non-project youth.

 

After some background research the teams in Finland identified three core thematic areas of issues to be raised with the decision makers:

 

  • Racism and bullying in schools
  • Social exclusion and marginalization of migrant youth
  • Youth unemployment and multi-lingual public services

 

Equipped with new skills and knowledge the teams were able to put them into practice during their meeting with national European Parliament Members (MEPs) as well as municipal officials during the Ruuti Expo event in Helsinki. They presented recommendations formulated in the project to the Finnish MEPs Henna Virkkunen, Nils Torvalds and Heidi Hautala. For example, suggestions to the Finnish Ministry of Education were made to develop an internet-based platform where cases of racism and bullying in schools could be reported anonymously. ACCESS participants brought forward the need for acknowledging that migrant youth have different needs at school and that youth services should be developed in such a way as to prevent social exclusion.

 

Getting involved

 

ACCESS activities are designed in cooperation with participatory system of the young people of City of Helsinki. If you are interested in joining the project, please contact project coordinator at IOM Kati Bhose: kbhose@iom.int

 

Written by Milda Beišytė