LISBON, Portugal, March 28, 2022
This international platform connects refugees, volunteers and organizations to respond to the urgent need to integrate refugees, by making emotional support groups and the learning of local languages widely available
LISBON, Portugal, March 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — SPEAK For Ukraine was launched on March 12th, 16 days after the start of the war in Ukraine, to respond to the need to integrate the, now, over 2.8 million people who have been forced to leave the country.
This platform connects volunteers to organizations, as well as to people who, after arriving in their host country, need support to break the language barrier and create an informal network of support. In these first days, hundreds of sign ups were already registered from over 60 cities worldwide.
Launched in collaboration with the Representation for the European Commission in Portugal & Associação Be Human, and with the support of Fundação Ageas, this platform will allow:
Refugees from Ukraine to have free and easy access to language groups, where they can learn the host country’s language, and to emotional support groups to help them and their families integrate into their communities.
Volunteers to support refugees from Ukraine by leading language groups, by sharing the local language, and supporting organizations with translation and/or interpretation, from Ukrainian or Russian to a multitude of languages.
Organizations and civil society to refer refugees, as well sign up to be connected with a network of volunteer translators/interpreters, and access emotional support groups.
“Through SPEAK For Ukraine we want to complement the work SPEAK already develops on behalf of the integration of refugees and migrants regarding the language barrier, in the different cities around the world where it has an active presence,” says Hugo Menino Aguiar, Co-founder & CEO at SPEAK. “With this platform we have created solution for integration not simply at the individual level, but at the family level as well. This way we guarantee families can overcome the language barrier and build and informal support network in their host country by expanding our community to Ukraine’s neighboring countries where SPEAK does not yet have an active presence. At the same time, we seek to guarantee that organizations all over Europe that work with refugees can find all the linguistic and integration support they need at SPEAK For Ukraine.”
In addition to the language barrier, SPEAK For Ukraine also responds to the more immediate communication needs, by activating an international network of translators and interpreters, and psychological support needs of those who have escaped the war in Ukraine. Through a collaboration with Associação Be Human, refugees can access free and high-quality emotional support groups, to help them overcome any trauma.
“The current humanitarian crisis demands a concerted response from public, private and social entities. It is paramount to have a medium to long term plan that includes emergency aid and structured support to the progressive integration of refugees in the Portuguese community. This project represents all that! I’ll add that the speed with which SPEAK’s team developed this specific program – focused on the integration of these refugees and ease the work of other refugee organizations easier – is applaudable. It is with great pride that Fundação Ageas supports this project by SPEAK!” adds João Machado, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fundação Ageas.
On the importance of psychological support, Maria Palha, Founders of Be Human adds that “the invisible wounds of witnessing and experiencing a war transcend our generations. It has become paramount to create an emotional support program to prevent acute stress and psychological distress in short, medium or long term.”
Sofia Moreira de Sousa, Head of the European Commission Representation in Portugal, underlines that “Learning the local language, developing personal relationships and creating a support net are essential for true integration. That is SPEAK’s impact. The European Commission works relentlessly on several fronts, to stop this appalling war, to cope with its consequences and to protect and host those who seek refuge in the European Union. This collaboration with SPEAK For Ukraine adds a tangible volunteering opportunity, an opportunity to support people who are starting over and acts as an incentive to the wave of solidarity from the Portuguese people and other Europeans.”
SPEAK is an impact startup founded in Portugal in 2014 as a solution to tackle the social exclusion of migrants and refugees. The organization has a community of 52,000 people across 23 cities. SPEAK was one of the winners of the European Google Impact Challenge and won third place at the 2019 Chivas Venture Tournament. For more information, visit www.speak.social.