"Together, we can create a new paradigm"
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By Morten Goll, Founder & Director of Trampoline House
Let me begin with a confession: It’s hard to go to work these days. Hard for our skilled volunteers, our interns, our staff and myself. It’s easy to catch a feeling of powerlessness in face of the many restrictions against asylum seekers and refugees that our politicians keep enforcing despite a dramatically decreasing number of asylum applicants in Denmark.
In her column at altinget.dk, Lisbeth Vibe Utzon, manager of the Integration House Kringlebakken, writes: “The consequences of the practiced integration policies are the opposite of integration. People become demotivated and are pushed into poverty, which creates greater inequality, marginalization, isolation from society, and polarization.”
In contrast to what we constantly hear from the parliament, integration does, according to scientific studies, work out really well: Fewer refugees and descendants of refugees end up living off benefits, and if we take a look at the refugees that I know from Trampoline House, the picture is similar. They want to participate in society and pay their taxes.
Integration succeeds thanks to diverse collaborations between civil society, municipalities and companies. In 2017, we started two big collaborations that we are particularly proud of: Next Practice, and the People’s Movement for Asylum-Seeking Children’s Future.
Recently, we helped a café owner with the IN6 form, which needs to be filled out in order to apply for a work permit for an asylum seeker and to approve their workplace. We also helped him figuring out how to pay an asylum seeker, who doesn’t have the right to a bank account, and how to pay their taxes. It’s not only asylum seekers and refugees that find integration difficult.
Therefore, with the support of TrygFonden and Tuborgfondet, we launched Next Practice in 2017, which is an innovative, employment-focused method of integration that builds on our experiences with direct democracy and active citizenship, and on our knowledge of the wishes and needs of all actors in integration. The project extends much further than Trampoline House, building on close collaborations with municipalities and companies.
One close partner in this ambitious initiative is the consultancy firm LG Insight, who for years have delivered solutions for Denmark’s municipalities. Another partner is Roskilde municipality, whose citizens will be participating in the project from March 2018. Next Practice ensures our new citizens’ access to the jobmarket one job at a time. This is an example of the hard work that civil society, municipalities and companies carry out every day. It’s the kind of work that unites and develops Denmark and the Danes.
The People’s Movement for Asylum-Seeking Children’s Future
Trampoline House is also here for the rejected asylum seekers. In the spring of 2017, Immigration Service started allocating families in deportation center Sjælsmark, where more than 50 children now risk spending their entire childhood in dire and prison-like conditions because their cases, according to the police, are completely deadlocked. And it’s not only in center Sjælsmark that the living conditions are unbearable. Approximately 2,900 children live in Danish asylum centers.
Therefore, on the initiative of worried parents from the asylum centers, Trampoline House and 24 other organizations founded the People’s Movement for Asylum-Seeking Children’s Future in the fall of 2017. It’s a politically independent movement that unites humanitarian and democratic organizations and citizens around the goal of securing children in the asylum system the right to a safe childhood and upbringing.
On December 16, 2017, as part of the People’s Movement, we arranged a big torch light march for asylum-seeking children’s future in Copenhagen. In the spring of 2018, we will invite for a big public meeting about the People’s Movements’ future ambitions.
Together, we can create a new paradigm
Next Practice and the People’s Movement are two great projects that show that Trampoline House is changing. As we become wiser, we specialize our work and expand our partnerships. I’m immensely proud of all of our staff, interns and volunteers who work hard and undauntedly to create a society of cohesion, solidarity and mutual respect. Through 7 years of experience, Trampoline House has acquired a knowledge and developed a practice that can create a new paradigm for Denmark’s asylum and integration policies. But we will need each other in order to succeed!
A large part of our funding currently comes from big foundations and companies. However, Trampoline House’s work also depends on the support we receive from our citizens. Your support is both moral and financial, as it shows us that there is backing for a version of Denmark where the local democracy is perceptible in the daily interactions between citizens, and where everyone takes responsibility for the community.
Thank you so much for that!