Epsilon Equipping Professionals for Supporting LGBT Migrants and Refugees

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  • About the Project

    The key aim of this Erasmus + KA2 (KA2 - Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices, Strategic Partnerships for adult education) project  is to improve adult education provision in the participating countries and through this innovative learning to allow other European countries to replicate its findings and educational tools. A secondary objective is to design and pilot, evidence-based, user-led effective strategies for enhancing basic skills for adult learners, while developing adult educators’ competences to deal with one of Europe's most marginalised groups of learners, making use of new technologies and teaching outcomes.

    The project is being delivered in 5 EU states and is being delivered in partnership by: IARS in the UK, ANZIANI E NON SOLO SC in Italy, KENTRO MERIMNAS OIKOGENEIAS KAI PAIDIOU (KMOP)  in Greece, Movisie - Kennis En Advies Voor Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling  (MOVISIE) in the Netherlands and CENTRE FOR ADVANCEMENT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY LTD-CARDET (CARDET) in Cypress.

    In particular, EpsiLon will focus on sharing, developing and transferring innovative practices in education targeting professionals and volunteers working in services for LGBT asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. It will develop a innovative, evidence-based, user-led educational tools in order to raise adult learners' awareness and sensitivity to the needs of all those with LGBT background. The educational tools will enable the professionals and volunteers to identify these LGBT groups' most current and urgent needs some even reaching on issues of survival, dignity and respect. It will also help them challenge their own biases and improve their skills in providing tailored and culturally sensitive services. The need for the development of such training programme is highlighted at top level by all competent organisations such as UNHCR and the EP.


  • Project Background

    According to UNHCR, in 2015, over 1.1 million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe. In 2016, this flow continues at a rate of 55,000 per month. The conflict in Syria continues to be by far the biggest driver of migration, but the ongoing violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, abuses in Eritrea are also leading people to look for new lives elsewhere.

    Violence at the collective and personal level is the key driver that forces these individuals to abandon their homes. While doing so, their basic needs and human rights are compromised. This also includes their free choice of identity, dignity and respect. It also includes being free to exercise their sexual orientation and have a partner from the same sex. It also includes exercising this right without being killed or bullied. However, the reality is different as a considerable proportion is in fact made homeless because of their sexual orientation (whether this is kept hidden or is revealed). The European Union and modern Europe has signed treaties and Directives that aim to protect all individuals from persecution and discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Examples include the Right to Private and Family Life in the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the 2004 Directive stating unequivocally that those who face persecution for their sexual orientation and gender identity qualify as refugees and many reports showed how minorities, including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual) people, were being specifically targeted in ongoing conflicts. 

    LGBT asylum seekers are often at risk of additional danger during their journey and upon arrival in the country where they seek asylum, which can take the form of harassment, exclusion, sexual violence, or other forms of violence. Trans people in particular have been the victim of harassment, including threats, verbal violence and physical violence UNHCR’s 2015 report clearly showed that LGBT people are subject to severe social exclusion and violence in reception centres, and especially in camp settings and this has been also recently acknowledged by a report of the European Parliament (10.02.16) on the situation of women and LGBT refugees and asylum seekers in the EU. From the media, we can already register many concrete cases:  in the Netherlands, the LGBT advocacy association COC alarmed the authorities after testimonies by Iraqi and Syrian LGBTI people who were being threatened to be beaten up or raped in reception centres. In Germany, stories of LGBT people being attacked and harassed in reception centres arose, which caused NGOs and local authorities to create separate shelters in Berlin and in Nuremberg. In the UK, a cross-party parliamentary inquiry criticized the abuse, bullying and harassment of LGBT people in immigration detention centres. In order to respond to this situation, the European Parliament EU (2015/2325(INI)) called on all Member States to adopt asylum procedures and endeavour to develop training programmes which are sensitive to the needs of LGBT persons and especially women.


  • Project Updates

    The project's 1st Transnational Meeting took place in London on 25th October 2016.

    You can download the project's launch press release here 
    You can download the project's website launch PR here

    The project's 2nd Transnational Project Meeting took place in Athens on the 8th of May 2017. 

    The day after, on the 9th of May 2017, KMOP hosted EpsiLon International Conference on “LGBT Refugees and Migrants: the situation in Greece and Europe”, from 09.00 - 15.30 at the President Hotel (43, Kifissias Ave., Athens). The conference took place in the framework of the Erasmus+ funded project “EpsiLon: Equipping Professionals for Supporting LGBT Refugees”, a unique LGBT-led project guided by an independent Users Advisory Board consisted of 20 LGBT migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, campaigners, psychologists and other professionals and researchers from 7 countries across Europe.

    The conference launched the e-book “Supporting and Including LGBTI Migrants: Needs, Experiences and Good Practices” that incorporates the findings of the first phase of the Epsilon project that follows in depth fieldwork involving LGBT migrants, refugees and professionals that was carried out in 5 countries in Greece, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Cyprus.
     
    Download the conference's press release here

    For updates please visit the project's website http://www.epsilonproject.eu/


  • Get Involved

    IARS is currently recruiting LGBTI refugees for the project's  advisory board that brings together LGBTI migrants alongside professionals and academics working in the field to help guide and direct the project. The board strengthens the user-led aspect of EpsiLon project and guarantees it remains a needs-based project. 

    Advisory Board members are required to commit to a minimum of two hours a month. In return, we offer the opportunity to contribute to contents of the project, the possibility of taking part in training and co-delivering training to other professionals working in the area.

    To find out how the advisory board operates please download the advisory board terms of reference.

    If you would like to get involved in the project please contact contact@iars.org.uk

    To see minutes from the first meeting click here. Minutes from the second meeting can be found here


  • How it fulfils our Mission

    The Epsilon project is the latest in a long line projects to tackle issues that impact those who are most vulnerable in the UK and throughout Europe. With the migrant crisis and the forefront of almost every bodies minds IARS intends to ensure that all migrants needs are addressed the development of best practice models throughout the EU. At present there is little known about the effectiveness of the support offered to LGBT refugees and asylum seekers and there is an imperative to make sure that those who have faced persecution due to their sexual or gender identity are not further marginalised through an ill equip asylum system and support structure

    Our International Institute is structured around user-led projects on issues that are selected by our users and are most current and relevant to their lives. The provision of ongoing support, peer mentoring and skills development and training is also paramount. Success is also dependent on how much the users are connected with the issues the project aims to address as well as how determined they are to address their own adversities and help others. Working at a local level and considering issues of costs and access are also important. Having "innovation' as an important principle, this project through its unique user-led methodology and structure is expected to develop and share bottom-up, capacity-building material and educational programmes that will address a gap in the field of training and education at national and EU levels.

    The Epsilon project aims to improve provision for adult learners and share innovative practices both within as well beyond the participating organisations and countries in the area of support for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. Over two years, our strategic partnership will co-operate at the transnational level for innovation and the exchange of good practices in our targeted area with the ultimate objective of boosting the skills of those servicing migrants. 

              

Co-funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ - Grant agreement 2016-1-UK01-KA204-024317