Breaking down cultural barriers

Ormož, Slovenia

Challenge team: The Franc Ksaver Meško Library, Ljudska Univerza Ormož, and the Ormož Adult Education Centre

Population of Ormož: 15,800

Summary: Franc Ksaver Meško Library in Ormož, Slovenia, is working with the local adult education centre and refugee networks to offer assistance to new arrivals from Ukraine.

The Franc Ksaver Meško Library in Ormož serves a region of Slovenia that has been affected by the migration of many thousands of people fleeing poverty and war, including Ukrainian women and children.

The library is working together with the Ormož Adult Education Centre to raise awareness and acceptance of the new arrivals among the local community – working to increase inclusion and reduce inequality.

The challenge team started out by establishing contact with local organisations that support refugees (including the Red Cross and local social workers and schools). Through social networks, they also reached out to both refugees and local people, inviting them to visit the library and take part in various activities including creative workshops, literary evenings, exercise classes and a shadow puppet performance in Ukrainian. Arrangements have also been made for humanitarian aid to be sent to Ukraine and further activities for all ages are planned for 2023, in consultation with community representatives. 

Newcomers have also been able to attend Slovenian language courses at the adult education centre and production of an English-language information brochure is underway to help newcomers orient themselves to the area. In addition to this support, new arrivals are able to use the library’s computers and Wi-Fi connection to keep in touch with family members and to study online. 

The challenge team said: “We found that, through our initiatives and socialising opportunities, Ukrainian refugees got to know each other, connected better and helped each other a lot. Friendships were also made with local residents.”

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