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.

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


Bring people together to work for a common goal!

Time needed: Half a day, whole day or weekend

Level of Difficulty: You need some time prepare and coordinate the activity, but the tasks are quite easy!

Resources needed: Volunteers, work and materials for it, food, possible budget for transport

Number of participants: Depending on the size of the project 

Contact / Source: Emmi Ruohonen

    Bring people together from different backgrounds by including both local volunteers and asylum seekers in this work project. This gives asylum seekers the possibility to contribute with their skills and motivation, meet local people and get something to do while waiting in the reception center. It also gives the local volunteers the possibility to meet asylum seekers and get to know each other and of course contribute to the common goal of the workday!

    You can invite people from reception centers and local volunteers to join a small work project that you have planned. This non-profit work can be for example organizing a small event, renovation work, cleaning the environment etc. You can ask at reception centers if there is work in the center to be done together with the residents. In centers, where the asylum seekers spend a longer time, such as centers for unaccompanied minors, it can also be very interesting to work in the center itself. There is often a lack of materials and the atmosphere can be quite ascetic. You can bring volunteers to provide materials, decorate and clean together with the residents. KVT has done this kind of working days both in reception centers and outside the centers.

    Another possibility is to take people out of the centers to a trip together with local volunteers. People in the reception centers often have been waiting for a decision of asylum for a long time, without having much to do. Therefore, it is also great to get an opportunity to do something outside of the center.


    1. Plan what kind of work will be done and where? Will you be working in the center or on a local level? Find a date.
    2. Contact reception centers to ask about their ideas and possibilities.
    3. How many people are needed and who coordinates the work?
    4. What kind of materials do you need for the work?
    5. Is transport to the venue needed? Who will cover the travel costs?
    6. Find someone to prepare lunch and discuss how to cover the costs of the lunch.


    • If it is too difficult to organize a workday, you can also consider organizing a trip together with local volunteers and asylum seekers.
      Remember that ability to enter centers differs in every country. It is also very important to first contact the staff of the center, meet them and present who you are and what you would like to do.
    • Remember to explain to the center and the asylum seekers what work is going to be done and why, what is volunteering and who you are.
    • Make sure that all volunteers have proper equipment and clothing for the project. (So that they don’t for example arrive to a renovation project with their best shoes… if needed provide specific clothes for the asylum seekers)
    • Make sure that the asylum seekers understand that the work is being done voluntarily and it is not going to be paid.


    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.