Building Bridges Toolkit

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.


Specific tips

SCI workcamps with asylum seekers and refugees usually take place in a reception or transit centre. In this case it’s useful to discuss and prepare the project with your hosts – the organisation, the institution or the staff that maintains the centre. Proceed as follows:

  • Contact the hosts first in order to ask about interest towards a project, and then meet them. Explain what SCI is, what a voluntary workcamp is, etc.
  • Speak about the needs of the centre and its inhabitants and design the project together based on these needs (e.g. renovation, not enough free-time activities for children, etc).
  • Speak about possible challenges of the project and find solutions together.
  • Speak about how the hosts can contribute with their skills and knowledge to the project – make sure they share all the information you need to know in order to create a safe environment for your volunteers and for the inhabitants.
  • Find out the house rules of the centre: Can you go out of the house with children from the centre? Can volunteers stay with the asylum seekers after their work? Are there special rules for clothing, behaviour etc.?
  • Are there other events planned at the time of the project/workcamp?
  • After you have decided on a project together, make a contract with the host (check contract draft in SCI’s Practical Procedures).

Involve the camp coordinator in the planning as soon as possible. Explain interaction between camp coordinator and host when preparing camp coordinators.

It is also worthwhile to think about preparing people living in reception centers before and giving them an idea of what volunteering is. A great method would be having local activities in the centre already before the project/workcamp takes place, so people know about SCI and what kind of activities there could be. Take different approaches:

  • Meeting and speaking about what will happen in the camp.
  • Putting up posters, so people can read about the project (including images, so people can imagine what is going to happen and understand if they can’t read the language)

    General tip:

    Check as well Workcamp in asylum centres and Thematic workcamp for more ideas and tips in the methods and tools of the Toolkit.


    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.