As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the European startup Speak, founded in Portugal to support the social inclusion of migrants and refugees, has launched the international platform “SPEAK For Ukraine” for the integration of refugees from Ukraine across Europe.
The platform connects refugees, volunteers and organisations with the aim of integrating Ukrainian refugees as quickly as possible, including offering emotional support groups and the framework for learning local languages, this includes Croatian language learning.
It is a company which, since its founding back in 2014, has created a community of more than 50,000 people across 23 cities, including more than 500 Ukrainians across Europe, and “SPEAK For Ukraine” was launched on March the 12th, a mere 16 days after the war in Ukraine broke out, in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in Portugal.
Free and easy access
This platform connects volunteers with organisations and people who need support to break down the language barriers and create an informal help network, and in the first days alone, hundreds of applications were registered through it from more than 60 cities around the world.
The platform can also be used by volunteers and refugees in Croatia, where there are currently about 9,000 displaced people from Ukraine. According to Speak, the platform will allow refugees from Ukraine to have free and easy access to language groups, where they can learn the language of their host country, as well as emotional support groups, to help them and their families integrate into their new communities.
The platform allows volunteers to organise language learning groups, translation and interpretation services from Ukrainian or Russian into many other languages, and helps various organisations to guide refugees.
”Through “SPEAK for Ukraine” we want to complement the work that Speak is already developing with the aim of integrating refugees and migrants on the issue of language barriers in different cities around the world. With this platform, we’ve created a solution for integration not only at the individual level, but also at the family level. In this way, we guarantee families that they can overcome language barriers and build an informal support network in their host country, by expanding our community to countries where Speak is not yet actively present.
At the same time, we’re striving to ensure that organisations across Europe working with refugees at SPEAK For Ukraine find all the language and integration support they need,” says Hugo Menino Aguiar, the co-founder and CEO of Speak.
A concrete opportunity
In addition to the language barrier, SPEAK For Ukraine also responds to more urgent communication needs, by activating an international network of translators and interpreters, and the needs of psychological support for those who have fled the war in Ukraine.
Sofia Moreira de Sousa, Head of the EC Delegation to Portugal, emphasises that learning the local language, developing personal relationships and creating a support network are key to true integration.
“It simply came to our notice. The European Commission is working relentlessly on several fronts to stop this terrible war, deal with its consequences and protect those seeking refuge in the EU. Cooperation with SPEAK For Ukraine gives us a concrete opportunity to volunteer and an opportunity to support people who are starting from scratch,” said Moreira de Sousa.
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