OCC equips migrants with tools to access opportunities and build a future while advancing equality and inclusion within local communities through intercultural exchange, education, and advocacy.
OCC will strive to become a key player within the community of organizations working to enhance the social and economic integration of migrants at a local level and an important voice advocating for policies that protect the rights of migrants and favor their inclusion within a diverse European society
OCC wants to strongly contribute to an inclusive society without barriers to the legal, social and economic participation of migrants as equal and valued members of society.
Inclusion & Diversity, Community Building, Volunteerism, Youth Empowerment, Innovation
Open Cultural Center (OCC) was established in 2016 at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe. Refugees and international volunteers at Idomeni refugee camp worked together to give classes and create a safe environment for children and adults, to learn and take part in cultural activities. OCC quickly became an important resource in the camp and organised events such as music and art workshops, open mic nights, performances and more.
Following the closure of Idomeni, OCC relocated to refugee camps in Cherso and Sounio, bringing experience and resources to continue offering classes, workshops and activities led by refugees themselves. OCC formally registered with the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum as a non-governmental organisation in June 2016 and moved to Polykastro, near Nea Kavala refugee camp in Northern Greece, in February 2017. Operations shifted away from reception and emergency support in camps, towards inclusion and integration. OCC continued to offer educational and cultural support for vulnerable people, and developed new projects to support the integration of refugees and migrants in the wider community.
Today, Open Cultural Center is active in Polykastro, Greece, and in Barcelona, Spain. OCC provides refugees, migrants and members of the local communities with access to a wide range of projects including non-formal education, language classes, employability workshops, and cultural activities. The profile of refugees and migrants sharing irregular Mediterranean displacement routes is very diverse. Greece is the first point of arrival for many refugees seeking asylum from Middle Eastern countries affected by conflict including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. In Polykastro, OCC has four different facilities which serve people living in the town, nearby villages and the refugee camp 5 kilometres away.
In Spain, many migrants cross the western mediterranean from North and West Africa, while an even larger number arrive at airports through regular means from Latin American countries affected by social and economic instability. OCC Barcelona operates an inclusion centre and a housing project for young refugees and migrants, whilst providing significant administrative and fundraising support for OCC Greece.
Social & Economic Inclusion
Migrants have improved ability, access and opportunity to participate and thrive in their new communities
Young people – especially young migrants – are engaged and empowered to positively influence their environment and their own future
More cohesive and inclusive local communities value diversity and provide mutual support
Greater awareness, understanding, and dialogue around migration contributes to positive attitudes and social change
Knowledge, innovation and evidence generation enhance the efficacy and reach of inclusion initiatives
Cooperation with OCC Greece and transnational partnerships extend the reach and impact of OCC programming
Our main target groups
Definition: A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution there. The risks to their safety and life were so great that they felt they had no choice but to leave and seek safety outside their country because their own government cannot or will not protect them from those dangers. Refugees have a right to international protection.
Definition: An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who hasn’t yet been legally recognized as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim. Seeking asylum is a human right. This means everyone should be allowed to enter another country to seek asylum.
Definition: There is no internationally accepted legal definition of a migrant. Like most agencies and organizations, we at Amnesty International understand migrants to be people staying outside their country of origin, who are not asylum-seekers or refugees. Lots of people don’t fit the legal definition of a refugee but could nevertheless be in danger if they went home.