„Fremde werden Freunde” is an association to promote social inclusion and cohesion between host and refugee communities in Austria, by spending time together and jointly getting involved in various activities. The concept is simple: Anyone is welcome to join and get involved in “Fremde werden Freunde”. People are free to join existing activities or to start new ones. Through this a totally new form of voluntary commitment arises, as access barriers are very low. The organization is constantly moving, shrinking, or growing, depending on the resources and interests of the volunteers. The association is organized as a network. More than 300 people were active as Volunteers for “Fremde werden Freunde” and more the 850 events (places of encounter) were organized since the beginning in the summer 2015. The fields of activity of “Fremde werden Freunde” are manifold. The organization runs various projects such as a mentoring project for refugee students, is supporting NGOs and companies in corporate volunteering and opened in cooperation with a museum the first Escape Room with a socio-political topic. Research, knowledge generation and cooperation form the basis for a progressive development of the organization’s activities.
In the Mirror Project the organization Fremde werden Freunde is engaged in Work Package 8 “Analysis & Field Studies for Understanding Irregular Migrants’ Perceptions of the European Union and the Role of the Media for Perceptions and Migration Decisions” under the lead of University of Vienna. The main role of Fremde werden Freunde in WP8 is the identification of relevant stakeholders in the various regions, contact in the field through the broad network and preparation, collection and analysis of qualitative data. Fremde werden Freunde also includes the expertise and experience of migrants into the Work Package. Furthermore, Fremde werden Freunde contributes to the Threat analysis in WP9 and the requirement analysis in WP2 by bringing the NGO perspective into those activities. The results of the project will be disseminated in events organized by Fremde werden Freunde for the Social Sector, migrants and volunteers in the field as part of WP11.