Migration and the SDGs: The Fresh Start Programme

As the climate emergency takes further hold, migration will be a growing sustainability issue. Developed out of discussions at the European RCE Regional meeting in 2016 hosted by RCE London, the Fresh Start programme supports migrants through ESD initiatives, offering alternative routes into employment and education. This EU funded project, together with London South Bank University, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences (Maastricht) and University Colleges Leuven-Limburg (Limburg), started on 1 June 2017, and has successfully supported 120 migrant entrepreneurs across 3 EU states (UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands) over the past two years, offering participants the possibility to acquire the necessary competences and abilities for a sustainable and entrepreneurial future.

Participants have developed business plans to take forward their ideas into action and several have already started the process of setting up a business. Others have started a Masters course, found employment, or started communities of practice for female refugee entrepreneurship or for refugee European project writers. Positive well-being has increased through enhanced self-confidence, trust and understanding of the context of the receiving country. Ongoing relationships have been established and participants have been linked into key networks for future support.

The programme design has drawn from all partners and participants to develop a co-learning environment which is appropriate and relevant to the participants and each local context. It is based on mutual respect, shared expertise and a belief that everyone is a co-beneficiary, and that all can learn from one another through ongoing enquiry, active learning, reflection and evaluation.

On 20 June, 2019, the Fresh Start team and partners held a symposium at the UK parliament, sponsored by local MP, Neil Coyle, in which draft findings were presented to policy makers. The team has learned a lot from the participants throughout the project and will be presenting their findings in a forthcoming policy paper.