Building Bridges Statement

The Toolkit was designed to collect and share the know-how on voluntary projects involving people seeking or who have recently found refuge, as well as raising awareness on forced migration in general. The collection of guidelines, methods and case studies is non-exhaustive and should simply foster your own inspiration and support you in implementing projects on the topic. The creation of the Toolkit has been driven by the ever bigger need of the international SCI network to exchange best practices on projects in the field. It was coordinated by SCI Switzerland with the support of Útilapu Hungary. Its existence wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the active contribution of the Building Bridges working group and a number of SCI branches.

METHODS AND TOOLS serve to support your work on the topic of refugees and migration with different target groups.


Making the asylum center a nice place to stay

Time needed: 2 weeks + preparation time.
Objectives / aim: Volunteers and asylum-seekers get a chance to contribute to renovation work or social projects
Level of Difficulty: hard
Organising this for the first time can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it!
Resources needed: Budget for accommodation and food (if the asylum centre can’t provide these), a centre that wants to host a workcamp, coordinators, volunteers, possible budget for travels and materials
Number of participants: ideally 2 coordinators + 10-15 volunteers
Contact / Source: Emmi Ruohonen

Organising a SCI workcamp in a reception center makes it possible for asylum seekers to be actively involved in the reception centers everyday life and contribute in making the place a nice place to stay. It also makes it possible for the international volunteers to be part of this work and get to better understand the asylum seekers’ reality. KVT Finland has held many camps in reception centres for unaccompanied minors and in regular reception centres. The work done in these camps has been very rewarding and the feedback from all sides has been positive.
The work in a reception centre can be for example organizing leisure activities for the residents or renovating the place. You can also organise events, where asylum seekers and locals can come together. Especially if the centre is in a district that is not very familiar with migration, you can organise some awareness raising events and possibilities to meet the people from the centre.

In a reception centre you need to work closely with the staff and be prepared for quick changes and sudden situations. Accommodation and food will most probably be provided by a different organisation from the centre or the centre itself and you will need to get acquainted with the rules and practicalities of the centre.


  1. First see the steps and the instructions on Preparing Projects and Preparing SCI workcamps with asylum seekers in the guidelines section of this toolkit.
  2. Contact a reception center to see if it would be possible to organise an SCI workcamp together with them.
  3. Explain what your organisation does, why you want to organise an SCI workcamp, what a voluntary workcamp is and what the role of the centre is in hosting it.
  4. Set a person to be in charge of the communication and preparation work with the centre, will it be staff or a volunteer?
  5. Discuss what kind of work can be done during the camp, what the needs and possibilities of the centre are. Is it possible to include the people who live in the centre into the planning?
  6. Agree on rules and regulations of the centre and commit to training the volunteers according to these.
  7. Make the camp description and upload it on
  8. Find camp coordinators and volunteers.
  9. Remember to prepare the coordinators and in the beginning of the camp the volunteers as well about the rules of the centre and some other special situations. For this see also Preparing volunteers for workcamps in the guidelines section of this toolkit.


  • Volunteers must be carefully prepared for example to respect the privacy of the asylum seekers and sensitivity of their experiences.
  • Especially with minor unaccompanied asylum seekers it might be interesting (and needed) to also teach some basic habits and cultural skills. For example we had cleaning days helping the youngsters to be independently in charge of cleaning the house and surroundings.
  • Remember to set rules about photographing! If you want to share or publish any pictures of the residents of the centre, ask their permission. Publishing pictures can be sometimes very uncomfortable or even dangerous for them.
  • When planning the program, remember to ask what the people living in the centre would like to do and think where you could use their skills and contributions.
  • Advise the camp coordinators to create a trusting atmosphere, where you can ask for support from one another in difficulties and facing hard situations.
  • Remember that you are probably asked to follow the rules of professional confidentiality, so please make sure that it is respected.


You can share your experience, observations, tips and tricks, pictures etc. by uploading for instance a method or a case study to the Building Bridges Toolkit. As this Toolkit is a work in progress to which all involved parties are invited to contribute, we would also be very grateful for your support and contribution in order to inspire others to continue the work towards peace and intercultural understanding.