Launching the C4i – Communication for Integration

 

A project to combat prejudices, stereotypes and racist attitudes

 

Have you ever heard expressions like "Immigrants receive more financial aid to open their businesses, and they don’t pay taxes…"; "Immigrants are overcrowding our health services…" or "Immigrants don’t want to integrate or learn our language…"? Such ideas, generally unsupported by facts and data, target specific groups as ‘problematic’ and it generate mistrust and social conflict.

 

C4i – Communication for Integration project aims to fight against misconceptions and prejudices, rumours and stereotypes by using viral information techniques to provide evidence-based answers to common misconceptions. Active participation from citizens as "anti-rumor agents" is a key feature of C4i.

 

C4i has been inspired by the ‘anti-rumors’ campaign initiated by the Barcelona City Council in 2010. The city started a long-term strategy to improve living together in a diverse society through a campaign to bust rumours, misconceptions and prejudices that many local people held about minorities and immigrants.

 

The first meeting of the C4i project partners was held in Barcelona on February, 11-12. The Council of Europe, as a lead partner, will work with 11 European cities, which will design their own anti-rumour strategies according to local needs and expectations. Participant cities in the 18-months project are: Amadora (PT), Barcelona (ES), Bilbao (ES), Botkyrka (SE), Erlangen (DE), Limerick (IE), Loures (PT), Lublin (PL), Nuremberg (DE), Patras (GR) y Sabadell (ES). Most of these cities are part of the Intercultural Cities, an initiative of the Council of Europe. Copenhagen (DK) and Getxo (ES) also participate as invited cities in the meeting.

 

During the meeting, the cities learnt about the previous experiences on anti-rumours campaigns: from Barcelona to Getxo (www.antirumores.com), dealing with different topics about the challenges of defining and implementing an anti-rumours campaign. Innovation, creativity and participation (especially through social networks) were defined as the key elements for a successful local antirumours campaign. The aims of the project, its methodological framework and the different activities that cities will implemented during the next 18 months were also discussed in the meeting. Finally, special attention was paid to evaluation: in a comprehensive approach but also focusing into the impact indicators, to evaluate in which extend the anti-rumours campaigns are useful instruments to increase citizens’ participation in fighting racism and xenophobia, and in strengthening social cohesion.

 

During the kick-off meeting, participants were invited to share some of their local experience of promoting intercultural interaction. The C4i video could be found at: http://bit.ly/PY0erc. The provisional website of the C4i will also provide you further information on the project. 

 

This project is implemented by the Council of Europe and funded by the European Commission in the framework of the European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals. The project will last 18 months and will generate more than 100 actions in the different cities.

 

C4i is a targeted action under the Intercultural Cities programme of the Council of Europe, and will provide methodological know how to cities which implement intercultural integration strategies. Interculturalism is a concept that promotes policies and practices that encourage interaction, understanding and respect between different cultures and ethnic groups.