On 31st of August, Sandra Frauenberger, City Councillor for Social Affairs, Public Health and Women's Issues, and Jürgen Czernohorszky, City Councillor for Education, Integration, Youth and Personnel, visited the CORE Centre in the 15th district of Vienna in order to get a first-hand impression of the location and kick-off the activities there. Both City Councillors as well as the media-representatives were highly impressed by the motivation and team-spirit of the involved refugees, supporting the CORE team in designing the new space for implementing innovative integration projects.
Active involvement of refugees
When the event took place, the paint work and the establishment of the rooms were still going on – with active participation from Mustafa Ahmed, Bashir, Hamid, Hussain and Omer. These five refugees, professional painters in their countries of origin, shared their knowledge with others and made the CORE Centre “ready to use” in a very short time. Also Ahmed from Iraq and Mahmmoud from Syria helped to prepare the rooms for the first activities. With over 1200 m², the CORE Centre provides shared facilities as office and co-working places, meeting and event space and addresses civil society initiatives, communities, NGOs and refugees in need of space for their own activities for (other) refugees.
Successful start of CORE activities
Only a few days after the event, the activities at the CORE Centre started: Since 4th of September, the CORE Project Partner European Office, Vienna Board of Education is implementing the curriculum for refugee-teachers in cooperation with the University of Vienna. In a ten months training program 23 participants are prepared in theory and practice (Tandem training) for their engagement as teachers in 14 schools with high attendance of refugee pupils. Moreover, the program for asylum seekers started: Since 19th of September 11 teachers support the staff of 11 different Viennese schools with activities like translation work, attendance at excursions or learning aid.
From now on the Information-Modules – organized by the Municipal Department 17/ Integration and Diversity - also take place at the CORE Centre. About 150 refugees already participated in the different information sessions, which were adapted and extended especially in relation to youth-issues.
Furthermore, the Vienna Business Agency is planning to organize workshops at the CORE Centre for refugees, who want to start their own business. The Vienna Social Fund itself is going to use the shared facilities for instance for health promotion workshops as well as for events with Stakeholders. In addition to these activities, sewing projects, acting classes, art courses as well as tutoring groups offered by civil society initiatives and refugees are planned for the next months.
Pooling talents, knowledge and experience
Refugees have not only been involved in the development of the facilities in the last months, but also in designing the visuals for the CORE project. Farbod, a young graphic designer and photographer from Iran, supported the CORE team with the design for the project and developed promotional materials such as roll ups, advertising signs, business cards and templates for presentations. At the event on 31st of August, the result of his work was presented. Photographer at the event was Romesh, a talented artist and professional photographer from Tajikistan, who in the future will also make use of his creativity: He will help with decorating the rooms and pass on his skills to other refugees. By pooling various talents, knowledge and experiences together, the CORE Centre will not only become a central place in Vienna for integration and encounters but could also become a role model for an inclusive society and hopefully will find lots of imitators.