Intercultural network Westmünsterland relies on innovative solutions

Intercultural network Westmünsterland relies on innovative solutions

The pandemic has taken hold of all areas of society and has a firm grip on it. It also influences integration work in our region. Unfortunately, valuable time for the integration of immigrants is lost and it is not foreseeable when “normal life” and far-reaching support for people will be possible again when they are integrated, said network spokesman Marijan Renić from the integration agency of Caritas Borken. So what next? The network's “Public Relations” working group is currently advising on this.
Many immigrants still urgently need support, but integration and language courses are closed, counseling centers are struggling with the effects of contact restrictions, important events fail, real meetings in committees cannot take place, measures cannot be carried out or can only be carried out to a limited extent, and volunteers must keep their distance hold and can not work as usual and often do not know what to do.
All member organizations of the Intercultural Network Westmünsterland in the district of Borken, consisting of independent charities, educational institutions and public bodies, have already experienced the sometimes drastic changes in contact restrictions and many are still looking for innovative or alternative forms in their work or are using them already in order to remain able to work for their target groups.
The central question is: How can integration work be carried out effectively in times of “social distancing”, ie with the current restrictions?
The language course and educational providers are changing, report Iris Schlautmann, co-spokeswoman for the network and responsible for the integration agency of the DRK, Reinhold Sandkamp from the Klausenhof Academy, Christian Kania from the Geba Münster, and Elisabeth Schmeinck from the VHS Bocholt. They try out new web-based methods to develop needs-based offers. It is important to reduce weaning from the German language to a minimum. With the online-based learning platforms you can only reach the “strong”, Christian Kania restricts, the vast majority cannot be reached in this way. Iris Schlautmann further points out that the technical equipment and the technical know-how of the language course students are very different and sometimes not sufficient, which makes the use of online-based learning platforms considerably more difficult, in the worst case it is impossible.
Restrictions, says Elisabeth Schmeinck, also apply to some volunteers, especially the elderly, who cannot imagine using technology for their commitment. Julia Hoffmann from the sports education center in the Kreissportbund Borken offers, among other things, various online-based further education offers for the sports clubs and for everyone interested in the Borken district.
In order to support each other, Torsten Henseler from the municipal integration center of the district of Borken adds, an exchange and knowledge transfer within and outside the network is important. He asks what is already working well, and what can the network partners learn and adopt from others?
Ahmet Sezer, the integration officer of the city of Gronau, also reports on successful video conferences with target groups, especially with migrant self-organizations, as well as Jan Meller from the local DRK integration agency, who works with volunteers who also want to get involved virtually.
Overall, it should be noted that the needs of the target groups of the network are not all
Forms and formats are equally effective, they are too heterogeneous for this, the offers have to be adapted effectively, says Marijan Renić.
Anno Kluss from context-beratung in Cologne will support the network at the first virtual large-scale meeting in a video conference as a coach to coordinate and ensure a professional process and the effectiveness of future activities.
In conclusion, according to Marijan Renić, virtual formats must currently be classified as highly necessary, but hopefully after the pandemic they should perhaps serve as an additional format, but never as a complete replacement for real meetings and training, real encounters are too important for that, after all, man is a social being.

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