“Many people want to do something for someone else.”
The Red Cross does extensive work with unaccompanied refugee children. For three years, Lois Hansson has been running a project to find new ways to help.
Tell us about the project you run!
“The project has three parts. The first part is about spreading information about the Red Cross’ work with finding family members and relatives, and with family reunions for unaccompanied refugees. The second part is about involving unaccompanied refugees in think tanks where they can share their own needs themselves. The third part is about interviewing unaccompanied refugees about their treatment throughout the asylum seeking process. We’ve chosen to concentrate the project on Uppsala, Umeå, Örebro, and Linköping.”
Interesting! What have you learnt from the project? What issues are important for you to keep working with?
“Most of all I’ve been convinced that the Red Cross’ work to reunite children with their parents is extremely important. Using individual cases, we also want to shape public opinion and raise awareness about weaknesses in the legal process.
It’s also really important to listen to unaccompanied refugees and their needs. One need is to receive support from adults, which we provide through our mentoring project. Such a program can be about visiting their home, helping with homework, and providing other support. And we can’t forget all the volunteers—they’re fantastic! We need to be better at initiating collaboration between the home, volunteers and the authorities.”
Even if Lois is the project manager together with colleague Josefine Zeolla, she’s quick to point out that it’s the volunteers that do the bulk of the work.
“There’s a lot of involvement with this issue. We have a lot of enthusiastic pensioners who want to run projects, and many young people who want to get involved and do something for someone else.”
If you also want to do something for someone else you can volunteer for the Red Cross. Contact them or Röda Korsets Ungdomsförbund.