The EMPO flerkulturelt ressurssenter is a resource center for young adults and families with immigrant background living in Bergen. It is under the Church City Mission and is led by a team of 14 staff and 6 volunteers with a multicultural and interdisciplinary and broad knowledge and experience in promoting diversity, dialogue and participation in Norway's multicultural society. 10 of the 14 staff members have immigrant background. In 2014 Empo had 550 participants, and 67 children representing all 52 nationalities.
Empo started in 2005 as a platform for women with children to meet and practice Norwegian. It has since then developed into a resource center with 10 year experience of cross-cultural work with and for people of immigrant background
Empo is an abbreviation for «empowerment», which is both goal and method for the resource center. Methodically, Empo’s work is based anthropological knowledge such as cultural understanding and cultural analysis, combined with the practical approach of health and Social work. It offers several meeting arenas, courses, individual counselling, work in groups with role-play, discussions and parental guidance as well as social, cultural and professional activities.
The offers depend on the needs expressed by participants. Through sharing practical and theoretical knowledge, they assist and enable participants to use and develop their own resources, expand their networks and experience a sense of mastery and greater control over their own lives. They encourage participants to learn Norwegian and engage in other activities to meet local people and families. They also provide participants with information, networks, and a chance of taking initiative and becoming active in the local communities. They help migrants understand the codes of the society and the keys to the functioning of schools and other environments.
Empo collaborates with the Bergen municipality, the Introduction Center for refugees, schools, health stations, schools and other public and private sectors. It also acts as a link between the different migrant groups and the public sector, sharing experiences and expertise on issues in regards to integration, community empowerment etc. A good example is a collaboration they had with a hospital that once wanted to raise awareness on diabetes through offering courses to immigrants, as Diabetes was prevalent among migrants. They had challenges getting people to register for the courses and took contact with Empo for a collaboration and help on how to plan the course. Together they organized the course at EMPO with a very good turn up. The multicultural stuff played a very important role to pass on the information.
EMPO initiatives such as women's groups, men's gatherings, courses, theme days and seminars, counselling, parental guidance, language and work practice, social networking across cultures - create space for dialogue, mutual understanding and change. And promote greater inclusion and integration into the society.