A non-formal adult Education Association, DoF Allerød Fritidsskole, has developed a course called Recycling Design, where refugee women and Danish women meet to share their interest in handicrafts/needlework once or twice a week. They engage in learning handicrafts/recycling design, participate in a community, learn a language and use it in practice, share knowledge concerning everyday life and establish networking with Danish women. The course contributes to the integration of refugee woman by making a handicraft course for both Danish and refugee woman.
Creating a community around a shared interest in an informal and safe learning environment, where trust and shared responsibility are present, supports the creation of new networks, dialogue-based conversations, the sharing of experiences and the issues raised during the course. The women in the course are learning to cooperate by depending on each other, working together to find materials, cleaning up after the classes etc.
The initiative of good practice has evolved into a network where they use their different competences for activities that do not involve needlework. For instance, shared dining and field trips to Parliament, which means that alongside the handicraft course, the maintained network is actively used in a wider scope.
The developer of the course emphasised the use of a key person as a ‘cultural and language interpreter’ in the course as one of the success factors of the Recycling Design program. That person works as a mediator, translator and motivator, thus she is able to solve problems in a comprehensive way. The use of key persons is important for creating and maintaining the motivation for participation and succeeding in involving a new target group in the context of non-formal adult education and keeping them involved.
In order to support the needs of the new target group, the flexibility of the program is being emphasized, for example by accepting cakes, drinks or food as a participant fee because some refugees could not afford the fee, organising transportation and allowing children to come in order to make sure the women are able to participate. Thus the children do not disturb the purpose of doing needlework, and it even creates a stronger community among the participants when they know each other’s families. By using recycled materials in the making of the designs/handicrafts, the expenses for the materials are reduced (or materials are even received for free) which makes the program accessible even to women with lower incomes.