Civic space

The civic space was created in collaboration with various organisations and associations to channel this citizen solidarity and set up, in a coordinated fashion, avenues for citizen participation to go alongside actions. 

In 2015, Barcelona reacted with solidarity to the so-called refugee humanitarian crisis. The mail box of the "Barcelona, Refuge City" plan received thousands of messages of support in no time at all, with all kinds of offers from individual city residents, bodies, businesses and schools in the city that were very keen to collaborate and help. The same thing happened to social organisations, both in Barcelona and in other municipalities.

But the indignation and solidarity shown by these citizens and organisations, on a par with the City Council's, came up against a wall of state paralysis. Cities receive asylum seekers but it is the European Union and member states that dictate asylum policy. The humanitarian crisis demands an immediate response but the reality is that governments are not lifting a finger, while hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and famine are risking their lives to get here.

The citizens’ space of the “Barcelona, Refuge City” plan was created in collaboration with various organisations and associations to channel this citizen solidarity and set up, in a coordinated fashion, avenues for citizen participation to go alongside actions. Since 2017, in addition to these demands, a new line of subsidies has been opened to promote awareness, participation, and impact actions on the topic of international protection. 

The participation model that "Barcelona, Refuge City" promotes is one that follows the logic of good neighbourliness.

Participating does not just mean giving, it means, above all, being part of. In that sense, the participation model that "Barcelona, Refuge City" promotes is one that follows the logic of good neighbourliness and small acts of kindness. The main aim is that refugees can build a small social network, like all of us, and that they can integrate into the city as one more neighbour. Being supportive and welcoming means letting these people be a part of our day to day lives.

That is why we invite you to participate, especially in the area closest to your everyday life. There are many organisations in the city’s districts and neighbourhoods working continuously to support migrants and refugees. You can get involved too. Closeness can help to meet one of the most important shortcomings of these people who have come to our house, that of having a close social network: someone to go for a coffee with, someone to go for a walk with and help getting to know the city. Making Barcelona a refuge city means making a city that is welcoming towards the people who are still to come as well as those who are already here.

There are, however, other ways of playing your part, beyond directly caring for people. We need to help at their place of origin and along the way; we need training and information; we need to know the context and what makes people migrate; and we need to challenge the stereotypes that abound about outsiders. We also need to put pressure on European institutions and the EU member states, to ensure they honour their international commitments, by accepting people who need to come here and offering them a safe, legal corridor to reach Europe. 

Because small things really do add up. 

The civic space encompasses citizen participation, awareness-raising and development-education initiatives, and serves to coordinate the actions of the City Council with those of city organisations, associations and groups, both formal and informal.

With this aim in mind, the “Barcelona, Refuge City” plan has established collaboration mechanisms with the Citizen Agreement for an Inclusive Barcelona, a tool for cooperation between civil society and the City Council that currently embraces more than 600 bodies, associations and organisations in the city. The Citizen Agreement has a number of area action networks, such as the Resilient Barcelona Network, the Barcelona Immigrant Reception and Support Network and the Prevention and Coexistence Network.

Within that framework a social space - or operational group - has been set up comprising representatives of the various areas involved. These are the Barcelona Federation of Residents' Associations (FAVB); two professional associations, the Official College of Social Work of Catalonia (TSCAT) and the Official College of Psychology of Catalonia (COPC); the Catalan Federation of Social Volunteering (FCVS); the UB Solidarity Foundation, the scouts and guides Minyons Escoltes i Guies de Catalunya; the Catalan Third Sector Entities' Board and Asil.cat.

In turn, the Asil.cat network encompasses nine entities, including members with full rights and observers, that work together to defend the right of asylum in Catalonia: the Catalan Refugee Aid Commission, the Red Cross, ACCEM, the UNHCR Catalan Committee, SICAR cat, Exil, Pen Català, the ACSAR Foundation and ACATHI. This operational group works on defining strategic lines of work and joint action with the Refuge City plan team.

Awareness-raising activities and resources Click to unfold the content

The City Council and city associations have educational resources, as well as development education and awareness-raising tools, designed for civil society in general.

You might find them useful not just for training yourself but also for informing and organising activities in your circle, including your neighbourhoods, schools and children's and young people's free-time associations.

Activities Click to unfold the content

Anti-Rumour Activities Catalogue.

This catalogue suggests 37 free activities for challenging rumours and stereotypes about cultural diversity. It was drawn up as part of the City Council's BCN Interculturality programme in collaboration with the entities involved in the BCN Anti-rumours Network.

The activities, organised in age bands, are very varied, ranging from street activities and entertainment to exhibitions and workshops.

They are for organisations, groups, associations, foundations and schools, as well as municipal centres, services and programmes.

You can take a look at the catalogue's suggestions here and request activities free via this form.

“Let's listen to the refugees.
Personal stories and experiences, first-hand”

This is an educational idea from the UNHCR Catalan Committee which consists of a talk by a refugee or an asylum seeker to explain their situation. For young people aged 14 to 18 as well as adults, in schools, neighbourhood centres, associations, etc.

Write to sensibilitzacio@eacnur.org if you want to request one.

 

“Refugees: the faces behind the figures”

The Barcelona Municipal Immigration Council organised the “Refugees: the faces behind the figures” exhibition in 2016 to commemorate World Refugee Day. The display includes 20 roll-up banners that are loaned to organisations, civic centres, libraries and other spaces.

 

“Working towards a welcoming society for immigrants and refugees”

A Justice & Peace educational programme that consists of a talk to analyse the characteristics and causes of the main current migratory phenomena, as well as the responsibility of wealthy countries. It includes the right to migrate, the right of asylum, illegal migration and human rights violations. For young people aged 10 to 18 as well as adults, in schools, neighbourhood centres, associations, etc.

 

“Open Borders”

The "Obrim Fronteres" (Open Borders) Refugee Support Network, which brings together more than 80 primary schools, secondary schools, organisations and associations, collects on its website a wide variety of learning resources, experiences and activities that can be used to introduce or explore the themes of migration, refuge and shelter. Materials are arranged by type of resource and age range (3-6, 6-10, 10-14, 14-18 and adults).

 

“The right to asylum: anyone could become a refugee”

Classroom learning suitcase from the Catalan Refugee Aid Commission to work towards inclusion of refugees in our society. "The right to asylum: anyone could become a refugee" is a collection of learning tools and resources for different educational levels, to combat the main rumours and stereotypes about the refugee population. It includes activities that promote values and boost the participation of children, young people and adults through a lively approach and a critical perspective of the causes of forced displacements.

Training for adults Click to unfold the content

Anti-rumours training

This is a 20-hour course (five 4-hour sessions) for people who want to get involved in the BCN Anti-rumours strategy and the BCN Anti-rumours Network, either as members of some organisation or on an individual basis.

Contact

Intercultural training

The City Council's BCN Intercultural Action programme offers free, quality training based on three principles: fostering real equality in rights, duties and social opportunities, increasing knowledge and the visibility of diversity, and promoting positive interaction between all citizens.

For the staff of city entities and services that want to develop their skills and strategies in this area.

Contact

 

“Open Borders”

The "Obrim Fronteres" (Open Borders) Refugee Support Network, which brings together more than 80 primary schools, secondary schools, organisations and associations, collects on its website a wide variety of learning resources, experiences and activities that can be used to introduce or explore the themes of migration, refuge and shelter. Materials are arranged by type of resource and age range (3-6, 6-10, 10-14, 14-18 and adults).

Educational resources for children and young people Click to unfold the content

  • The UNHCR Catalan Committee has a number of activities and resources for the education community, teachers and educators to make children and teenagers aware of forced displacement. “Jo em dic Brisa, I tu?” ("My name's Brisa. What's yours?") is for children aged 6 to 12.
  • The Autonomous University of Barcelona's School of Peace Culture also has activities for working with children on the consequences war has on the civilian population. The game "Escacs desplaçats" ("Displaced chessmen") helps to show the differences between a refugee and a displaced person. Designed for children aged 12 and over.
  • The University of Barcelona's Research for Peace programme offers support and advice on research projects at secondary schools from a human rights' perspective. For secondary-education and Baccalaureate teachers and students.
  • Two journalists' associations, Fora de Quadre and Contrast, together with the resource network Edualter and with the backing of the City Council, have produced a teaching guide based on the documentary series After peace to work on the consequences of war and the role of civil society in building peace. For Baccalaureate students.
  • The UNHCR offers teachers and educators teaching materials and awareness-raising exhibitions for all levels of education.
  • The UNHCR has also copied a set of educational resources produced by organisations working in refugee care and support, as well as educational experiences from schools working in this area.
  • The LaFede.cat Resources Centre for a Transformative Education has compiled these and other teaching materials, produced by NGOs that belong to it, with a peace, human rights and development focus. For NGOs, teachers, schools, universities, educators and social educators, children's free-time associations, public authorities, the media and anyone interested.
  • The "Obrim Fronteres" (Open Borders) Refugee Support Network, which brings together more than 80 primary schools, secondary schools, organisations and associations, collects on its website a wide variety of learning resources, experiences and activities that can be used to introduce or explore the themes of migration, refuge and shelter. Materials are arranged by type of resource and age range (3-6, 6-10, 10-14, 14-18 and adults).
  • “Refugees: the faces behind the figures” Barcelona Municipal Council organised this exhibition in 2016 to commemorate World Refugee Day. The display is made up of 20 roll-up banners that can be loaned to schools or leisure centres accompanied by learning material that suggests a series of activities. For children and young people from 12 to 18 years old.
  • The 12th Public Hearing for the Boys and Girls of Barcelona focused on "Barcelona, a Refuge City". Conducted during the 2016-2017 school year, it involved 25 schools and more than one thousand year-6 primary, secondary and special education students, who reflected on the reception of refugees. The educational materials were developed by the School for a Culture of Peace at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, with the support of the Barcelona Municipal Institute of Education and the team behind the "Barcelona, Refuge City" plan. You can download them from this link.
  • "Entre Terres" (Between Lands) is an educational guide on migration in the Mediterranean, developed by EduXarxa and commissioned by the International Civil Service and the Stop Mare Mortum platform. The purpose of this material is to provide educational organisations, primary and secondary schools with tools to address the issue of refugees from a perspective of peace-building and social transformation. The guide, which is available on the web, is divided into five thematic blocks (Mare Mortum, Human Rights, Racism, Gender and LGBTI, and Social Transformation). In each section, activities are suggested according to age group (from 9 to 12, from 13 to 16 and over 17) and end with a call for reflection, creation and action. 
  • The "People who move" (Persones que es mouen) campaign by Doctors of the World proposes a reflection on borders in a very broad sense: both the physical state as well as the more internal and invisible ones that impede coexistence and the dignified reception of people who arrive, in terms of health, rights and gender. The tool can be downloaded for free.
  • “The right to asylum: anyone could become a refugee” is a classroom learning suitcase from the Catalan Refugee Aid Commission for working towards inclusion of refugees in our society. It is a collection of learning tools and resources for different educational levels, to combat the main rumours and stereotypes about the refugee population. It includes activities that promote values and boost the participation of children, young people and adults through a lively approach and a critical perspective of the causes of forced displacements. 
  • A collection of Refuge City learning resources created by entities and centres for work in classrooms and non-formal education spaces on the topic of refuge and forced migration. 

How can you take part? Click to unfold the content

Public institutions and professionals are responsible for covering the basic needs of refugees and providing psychosocial care, but that must be accompanied by processes that foster independence.

So the solidarity initiatives will be aimed at accompanying refugees on these processes for incorporation into everyday social life and at raising awareness of their arrival and the reasons for their fleeing from their countries.

In that context, volunteering is a commitment to the city, not to specific entities. Anyone can take part in them as part of their everyday lives, through residents', cultural and sports organisations and associations, as well as schools and other centres in their neighbourhoods and districts.

Barcelona has a network of organizations and collectives where to get involved and carry out actions to make the city more welcoming for all.

On the New Citizens information portal you will find the Organisations search engine in the Barcelona Acollida y Acompanyament Network, which brings together more than 100 entities that provide information and/or advice to newcomers. Searches can be made by geographical area (district or neighbourhood) and by the type of service or project offered by the entity.

On the Acció Comunitària (Community Action) website, you can view the General File of Citizen Entities, one of the instruments linking Barcelona City Council to city associations and other entities. Searches can also be made by geographical area (district or neighbourhood) and by entity topic area.

There are also other spaces you can visit:

  • The Asil.cat Network is a group of entities that work to defend the right of asylum in Catalonia and the rights of people who have suffered forced displacement.
  • Lafede.cat is a network of more than 100 entities dedicated to development cooperation, as well as the defence and promotion of human rights and peace. 
  • The Catalan Federation for Social Volunteering (FCVS) is a network of entities that works for the promotion and recognition of social volunteering.