Prototype Introduction: Skill-Up!

A co-working space and platform to jump-start collaboration, empowerment and skill strengthening among migrants, refugees and local communities.

Stephen Ogbonna (Italy) from Mama Africa & Margherita Mugnai (Italy) from Sociolab talk about Skill Up! prototype

Prototype description

The dramatic rise of migration in Europe is currently at the forefront of public debate. Despite the existence of some advanced experiences of integration and exchange, most media and civil society’s attention in Europe is focused on the critical aspects of the many new foreign residents’ presence in local communities with mainstream debate tending to see asylum seekers and refugees exclusively as passive users of basic reception services. This message can rise the perception in local communities of refugees as a problem and can generate a passive attitude in refugee communities.
In this context, several initiatives to create better reception mechanisms have been launched, also at the grass-root level. Municipal and regional governments are also experimenting new collaborative practices aimed at engaging refugees and asylum seekers in community services of different kind.

Yet, still very little is being done on the issue of empowerment and skills strengthening of refugees and asylum seekers living in reception facilities across Europe. Moreover, very little arenas exist to bring together migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and social and creative innovators from European local communities. There is a need to create innovative solutions targeting both local communities and the international political agenda and to involve refugees and asylum seekers as active members benefitting the community as a whole.

Skill-­Up! is a new model of a co-­working space and a skills strengthening platform based on active collaboration between local and European innovators and new European residents, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. The major goal of the project is to prototype an approach based on horizontal relations, co-­design and acceleration of local actions for change in order to export it to other cities and regions in Europe. Bari (Italy) as a city with high level of social capital and a rich history of migration and diaspora is chosen to be a pilot location for the project. The city like others in Italy is at the forefront of the refugee crisis and local communities are exposed to the opportunities and challenges of cultural integration.

Aims of the prototype

• to strengthen community ties between new and old residents by combining their experiences, knowledge and skills capabilities in empowerment, co-­design, and networking creation in different European context;
• to create a permanent physical space, among the firsts of its kind in Europe, that focuses on skills sharing and accelerating ideas integrating refugees and migrants;
• to map the skills and cultural practices of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants increased awareness at the European level of their potential;
• to design and test a set of prototyped activities aimed at strengthening skills, and developing social innovation projects involving refugees, migrants and local communities.

Target Group

Migrants, refugees local creatives and innovators, NGOs and other stakeholders active on the issue of integration, policy-makers at the local level.


Margherita Mugnai, Sociolab
Stephen Ogbonna, Mama Africa
Laura M. Pana, Migrationlab
Andrea Rossi, Cherimus

Budget: 4.000€

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