It has been announced that a project whereby certain refugees are given help and support by local volunteers who include pensioners and school pupils is to start today, Wednesday 1 May.
It is on this day that new State regulations pertaining to asylum-seekers come into force, the aim being that two-thirds of refugees between the ages of 16 and 25, including those provisionally accepted, should be engaged on a training course of some kind. “And this is something we are taking very seriously,” said Andy Tschümperlin, the head of social services with regard to asylum-seekers.
The Department of Inner-Cantonal Affairs, which is responsible for all matters pertaining to asylum-seekers, except the number of those allocated to the individual cantons, which is also a matter for the State, announced that, following a successful four-month trial period, the tutoring sessions are to begin on the premises of the former cantonal hospital on Artherstrasse, where the 32 asylum-seekers to be supported in this way are already accommodated. Among those to be tutored are young adults from Eritrea and Afghanistan, for example.
The learning-support sessions, enabling the asylum-seekers to get help in a range of subjects, will take place between 6pm and 8pm on weekday evenings. While there is provision at present for 32 asylum-seekers, all of whom are reported to be highly motivated, to be helped in this way, there are plans for the project to benefit even more.
As mentioned, in addition to pensioners helping out the refugees in this way, so, too, will be students and native German-speaking pupils of the International School of Zug and Lucerne, particularly when it comes to teaching German. Of note is that some of refugees are illiterate, only now, at the age of 20 or so, learning how to read and write.
Speaking about the four-month trial period, Tschümperlin said how both refugees and helpers reported most positive experiences during this time, with definite progress recorded. As the refugees benefit from contact with members of the local community, helpers, some seven or eight of them, profit from the contact with others from differing cultures from across the globe, those whom they would ordinarily never have met.
For his part, cantonal government member Andreas Hostettler, who heads the Department of Inner-Cantonal Affairs, pointed out that these tutoring sessions were in addition to other training opportunities available to refugees, such as the so-called bridging courses and others offering support in integration, Tschümperlin adding how it had been the policy of the canton to engage the help of volunteers in all sorts of areas involving asylum-seekers since they started arriving in numbers in 2015. It was also pointed out how many of the individual municipalities also help out in this area in many other ways.
This article is based on one by Vanessa Varisco.