VOLPOWER International Conference: Reflections of volunteering services for migrants during Covid 19

The VOLPOWER project held an online international conference on 27th May 2021. Volunteering activists, NGOs and social inclusion workers shared their reflections on working with migrants, volunteering, service provision and the challenges that they face at the face of the pandemic.

The conference hosted volunteer practitioners, experts, NGOs and academics working in the field of migration and integration willing to share knowledge and best practice.

You can watch the conference videos here:

Cécile Kyenge – Volpower International Conference Keynote Speech
Dr. Andrea Carlà – Volpower International Conference, Panel 1
Nikica Kolar – Volpower International Conference, Panel 1
Kristina Debenjak & Eva Zibler from Cirkokrog – Volpower International Conference, Panel 2
Paul Fletcher from Achieve More Scotland – Volpower International Conference, Panel 2
Akef Ibrahimi from Hip Hop Huis – Volpower International Conference, Panel 2
Nejra Kadić Meškić – Volpower International Conference, Panel 2
Q&A – Volpower International Conference, Panel 2
Itir Erhart – Volpower International Conference Keynote Lecture


Thursday Morning

09:30 – 09:40 Welcome Note
Professor Umut Korkut: Project Lead
Glasgow Caledonian University

09:40 – 09:45 Professor Andrea Nelson
Pro Vice-Chancellor Research
Glasgow Caledonian University

09:45 – 10:45 Keynote Lecture: Cécile Kyenge
Former Italian minister for integration ( 2013-14)
Member of the European Parliament (2014-19)

10:45 – 10:55 Coffee Break

10:55-12:15 Panel 1: AMIF-Volpower Project findings /
Volpower documentary
Chair: Dr. Ursula Reeger: OAW (The Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Romana Zajec: Programme Director/Co-Founder,
APIS Institute, Ljubljana.
Dr. Andrea Carlà: Senior Researcher, EURAC, South Tyrol
Nikica Kolar: PhD Candidate: IRMO
nstitute for Development and International Relations), Zagreb, Croatia

Thursday Afternoon

13:00 – 13:05 Welcome Back

13:05 – 14:20 Panel 2: Volpower Partner Organisations

“Views from the community: Social inclusion from a practitioner view”
Chair:  Prof. Dr. Peter Scholten: Erasmus University Rotterdam
Kristina Debenjak & Eva Zibler: Cirkokrog, Slovenia
Paul Fletcher: Achieve More Scotland
Akef Ibrahimi: Hip Hop Huis, Rotterdam
Nejra Kadić Meškić: CEO,Centre for Culture Dialogue, Croatia

14:20 – 15:10 Keynote Lecture: Itir Erhart
Assoc. Professor, Istanbul Bilgi University
Key areas of study include: Human Rights & Sociology of Sports

15:10 -15:30 Final Q & A

15:30 Concluding Remarks

Meeting Rooms for Break

Meet the Volpower Team

Meet The Volpower Exhibition Curator / Documentary Maker

Join for a chat or to continue discussion


Cécile Kyenge

Cécile Kyenge is a former Italian Minister of Integration (2013-2014) and a former member of the European Parliament (2014-2019).
Currently, she is a consultant on developing policies and a lead physician in the fight for COVID-19 in Italy. She sits on the ethics committee of the European project MATILDE « Migration Impact Assessment to enhance Integration and Local Development in European Mountain and Rural Regions ».
Cécile marked political history at her country as the first black MP in Italian government. Her commitment to the defence of human rights and the fight against racism in Italy, as well as her expertise in international development policies and democracy made her a revolutionary figure for the next generation in Italy, in particular to the second generation citizens of Italy. One of her main political fights was for the establishment of birthright citizenship (‘Jus Soli’) in Italy.
She was Vice President of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly ACP-UE and co-President of the European Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI).
Cécile was a co-appointed investigator for the KYENGE/METSOLA resolution of the European Parliament for the situation in the Mediterranean. For the period 2015-2018, she was appointed as Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission at Burkina Faso, Zambia and Mali. In 2019, she was appointed as a shadow investigation for the European Parliament on the fundamental rights of people of African origin in Europe.

Prof. Itir Erhart

Itir Erhart is Associate Professor at lstanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. She studied philosophy and Western Languages & Literature at Bogaziçi University. Itir completed her M.Phil in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Since 2001, she has been teaching and conducting research on gender, human rights, sports, social movements civil society and social entrepreneurship.   She is the co-founder of Adim Adim (Step by Step) a volunteer-based organization that promotes charitable giving through sponsorship of athletes in local sports events. Erhart is also co-founded Acik Acik a platform which unites donors with NGOs that respect the rights of donors.  She is an Ashoka Fellow and Ashoka Turkey Board Member, a TEGV (Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey) Trustee and Advisory Board Member at Sabanci Foundation.


Kristina Debenjak & Eva Zibler: Cirkokrog, Slovenia

Kristina Debenjak
Kristina is a social pedagogue and circus pedagogue. She has been active in Cirkokrog for more than ten years. She implements and leads circus education projects in the field of youth, leisure and prevention activities for children, multi-ethnic and multicultural schools, street work in communities and vulnerable groups. She is the head of the team of education and training for the members of Cirkokrog. She is also part of the teachers group for the subjects of Circus Pedagogy and Community work at the Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana. She likes to learn from people and reflect on our experiences a lot! 

About Cirkokrog
The Association for Circus Pedagogy Cirkokrog is an organization that works in the field of youth work and nonformal education for children, youth and adults. The association connects different professionals and individuals that use circus activities in order to stimulate creative expression, cooperation, connectedness, education, empowerment, promotion and activation of children, youth and other groups.
We are active with youth and social circus programs held in schools, multicultural schools, (re)educational homes for children and youth, refugee homes, student homes, youth center, on the street, etc. We also organize international youth exchanges and street circus projects in depriviliged communities. We work in different social contexts with different social groups.
We aim to create mixed communities and create bridges between different groups of people. Our focus is to develop and cherish youth and social circus programs based on the empowerment of youth, inclusion of deprivileged groups, culture animation and community work.

Paul Fletcher: Achieve More Scotland

Has worked for Achieve More Scotland since it was created in 2009. Paul started with the charity as a youth worker in Possilpark, in the North of the Glasgow where he worked throughout both his undergrad and postgrad. Upon graduating from university in 2012 Paul started to work for the charity full time and took on the role of Head of Development. Following a period of significant organisational growth over the next 3 years Paul was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2015. Paul is directly responsible for overseeing all of Achieve More Scotland’s operational delivery from their schools and holiday programmes to their evening diversionary activities and Erasmus+ projects. Paul manages a team comprising of 25 full-time staff, 60 sessional workers and approximately 100 volunteers. Paul has been involved in many Erasmus+ projects over the past decade and has directly overseen over 100 young people participating in both short term and long term EVS (European Voluntary Service), as well as youth exchanges.

Akef Ibrahimi: Hip Hop Huis, Rotterdam

Akef Ibrahimi is an Afghan-Dutch cultural worker. Their parents came from Afghanistan, and Akef was the first of their family to be born in the Netherlands. Rotterdam, a majority-minority city, has been home for as long they can remember.
Akef has been studying and researching inclusivity and intersectionality their whole life, both through life experiences and education. Through their love of dance, HipHopHuis seemed like a perfect fit for them to intern, and it later seemed like the perfect place to put in practice their expertise and help create a safe space for marginalized communities to thrive in Rotterdam. Playing various roles within the organization, Akef now is community manager in HipHopHuis, which essentially means volunteer co-ordinator and community support worker.

Nejra Kadić Meškić: CEO,Centre for Culture Dialogue, Croatia

CEO at the Center for Cultural Dialogue based in Croatia, which builds intercultural societies and fights growing mistrust and polarization by strengthening intercultural and interreligious dialogue, with a special approach to people on the move. She finished the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and has ten years of experience as a programme and campaign leader in the field of human rights, culture of dialogue, gender equality and youth at political and implementation levels. She is a trainer on teamwork and leadership in educational programs for youth. She has experience in project management, event management, public relations and marketing as well as public finances and budgeting – especially in youth-related projects and fields. She is familiar with the issues of human rights in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as she worked in the NGO sector in both countries, and in 2013 received an award for her contribution to the achievement of gender equality from the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 2019, Ms Kadić  Meškić  has been a KAICIID Fellow. Her motto is: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”