Soziale Integration
Annette Boutellier

Inclusion creates prospects


Ever more people are facing exclusion owing to their social background, ethnicity, age, gender or their religion. Through its projects and its social commitment, HEKS/EPER strives to ensure that everyone in this country can take part in its social, cultural, political and economic life.

Creating prospects

Empowering and promoting the individual lies at the heart of HEKS/EPER endeavours. Through its project work HEKS/EPER strives to enable socially underprivileged Swiss citizens and migrants to lead a life of independence, reduce their social risks and protect themselves against unequal treatment and discrimination. They should be able to participate in and help mould society, as well as claim their rights and fulfil their obligations. They are afforded very uncomplicated access to information and advice, they can obtain qualifications and support, as well as make contacts and build up a social network. In doing this work, HEKS/EPER focuses on topics in which it has the requisite expertise and experience: job market integration, structuring of daily routines and encounters, assisted living, language, intercultural interpreting and intermediation, child and parent education, and age and migration.

Schwerpunkt Integration HEKS-Projekt Visite

Equal opportunity on the job market

Vocational training and gainful employment are vital to becoming integrated in society. Young people with social or educational deficits, job seekers with limited professional qualifications or having social and health burdens, unemployed persons over 50 years of age and well qualified migrants from third countries have markedly poorer chances when seeking work or apprenticeships. HEKS/EPER therefore supports and accompanies job-seekers by offering differentiated training opportunities and multifaceted work integration programmes. Through these offers, HEKS/EPER fosters the development of vocational and social skills so that job seekers can upgrade their qualifications and expand their action alternatives.

Schwerpunkt Integration HEKS-Projekt Kick

Structured daily routines and encounters

Re-entering the job market is not a realistic goal for all unemployed persons. Because work also creates a meaningful daily structure and ensures interpersonal contacts, long-term joblessness can lead to social exclusion. HEKS/EPER organizes regular part-time occupation on the secondary job market for people without gainful employment. These assignments allow them to participate actively in social life. In addition, HEKS/EPER offers a meaningful, structured daily routine to people who have only been living in Switzerland for a short time or who do not have a social network here. HEKS/EPER fosters self-confidence, self-determination and self-reliance on the part of beneficiaries. This opens up new prospects for them and, depending on their situation, enhances their employability and allows them to make new contacts.

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Growing old and staying here

More often than not, older migrants are less well-informed than Swiss citizens of the same age – mostly because of language barriers. They therefore rarely make use of government services for the care of the elderly or other programmes to assist that demographic. The situation of immigrants tends to differ from that of local people also from a financial and health standpoint. On average, migrants are materially worse off and more often affected by health problems. HEKS/EPER provides older migrants with information on issues of ageing and preventive health practices and encourages networking among them. The projects afford participants the opportunity to learn more about age-related matters and to make use of the schemes available to them.

Schwerpunkt Integration HEKS-Projekt InfoSuisse 50+

Building bridges through communication

In promoting inclusion for migrants, one important objective is securing equality of opportunity for them when accessing programmes offered by ordinary institutions. For the socially underprivileged and for migrants, such access could be hampered by lack of information and by language barriers. HEKS/EPER therefore trains intercultural interpreters and mediators and makes them available to interested institutions. Intercultural interpreters participate in discussions between migrants and experts by translating into the languages of origin and of destination, they recognize and understand the social and cultural differences as well as the associated communication problems. Intercultural mediators lead discussion groups, for example in intercultural settings, and are called upon by specialised offices to help develop programmes or to help improve access to certain groups of migrants.

Schwerpunkt Integration HEKS-Projekt Linguadukt

Education and information

Education is the key to becoming integrated into working life. Depending on gender, age or nationality, there are considerable educational inequalities. Improving the educational opportunities of the socially underprivileged calls for measures covering early childhood, compulsory schooling, vocational training as well as continuing education. Language skills are essential to functioning independently on a day-to-day basis and in the various spheres of life, as well as to making contact with the local population. HEKS/EPER therefore supports migrants and refugees by means of a varied programme of language and integration courses. In addition to acquiring language skills, participants are also given information about everyday life in Switzerland. HEKS/EPER also provides a range of education programmes for the benefit of socially disadvantaged parents and their children. 

Schwerpunkt Integration HEKS-Projekt Gundeli

Housing support

There is a steadily worsening shortage of affordable housing and the rent burden on lower income groups is growing. Even socially disadvantaged people who have living quarters need support in certain circumstances, as people in a crisis, those with an addiction problem or mental illness are often overwhelmed by housekeeping and other day-to-day tasks. The result could be that they shun social contact, they hardly leave home, and become lonely. HEKS/EPER therefore provides low-threshold home support services – whether in the client's own home or in dwellings rented by HEKS/EPER. This service protects them from homelessness and neglect. Clients are supported in better managing their homes and lives from day to day and are prepared for leading a life of independence within their own four walls.

Schwerpunkt Integration HEKS-Projekt Wohnen

Socio-political engagement

HEKS/EPER is aware that besides project work, lasting change also calls for structural improvements to the general conditions in which people live. HEKS/EPER therefore supplements project work for the benefit of the socially underprivileged with targeted and well-founded socio-political engagement and outreach work. The aim is to draw the attention of political, economic and social players to the concerns of the socially underprivileged in order to improve their situation. HEKS/EPER closely monitors social policy trends in Switzerland relating to the social and labour market, migration and integration, as well as protection from discrimination. HEKS/EPER also participates in networks in order to communicate its concerns more effectively.

HEKS in der Schweiz
Sabine Buri

Project examples

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