The Centrepoint Ukrainian Initiative started in 2022 as Centrepoint’s response to the extraordinary influx of refugees from Ukraine who have fled to Switzerland from the devastating conflict in their country. It is designed to extend a special welcome to local area S-Status* Ukrainian refugees by providing them the mix of information, support, friendship, engagement and oasis which Centrepoint offers.
The aim was to focus on the link between refugee needs and Centrepoint capabilities, by complementing the support provided by government and service agencies and by aligning with our mission of facilitating integration.
"Being a member of Centrepoint for me means being able to communicate in different languages.
I like the variety of activities and suggestions for spending time together. This is a good opportunity to communicate with new interesting people and get new experiences."
"There are always smiling positive people at Centrepoint. This is a place not only for learning the language, but also for the traditions, culture, and lifestyle of the local people. Support was always felt in the circle, no matter the level of my language skills.
For myself, I realized that it is also a center of smart, interesting, active, creative people who are always eager to learn something new. Thanks for everything!"
Since June of last year, the initiative invites S-Status* holders from Ukraine to sign up as a new Centrepoint member at no cost for one month, in order to sample an array of activities. At the end of the month-long trial period, they can choose to take out a regular one-year membership by paying a minimum of CHF 20. Any unpaid portion of the regular membership fee is then subsidized by a fund comprised of donations from other members.
The Initiative has appealed to different applicants in different ways. While it has evolved to include several components and activities, at its core it remains an offer to experience the best of Centrepoint
What began as a pilot project continues today. The subsidized membership offer has been extended for another year (both for newcomers and renewals).
"To be a member of Centrepoint for me is to have the opportunity to talk to interesting people, to join the international community, to have the opportunity for socialising and integrating into the local culture based on experiences of people from different countries.
I appreciate Centrepoint for its openness, warmth and welcoming of everyone. I enjoy experiencing new things together with other members, finding friends and sharing thoughts and feelings."
"For me, being part of a Centrepoint means being part of a big family! The family that accepted and supported me at such a difficult time for us. Centrepoint provides a good chance for integration in Basel
I really appreciate the possibility to study and practice languages, it is very important and valuable for me now! But first of all, Centrepoint is about meeting pleasant, good people and a wonderful team that you can always turn to for help."
You can learn more about this exceptional outreach by reading the September 2023 issue of Horizon Magazine (login required), which features an update on the Initiative.
"As I came from Ukraine for me it is very important to socialize and integrate in the Swiss environment. Joining Conversation Groups, Coffee Mornings and other activities helped me a lot to cope with my stress. At Centrepoint I can be surrounded by people from whom I feel great support.
The volunteers at Centrepoint are so eager to invest their time and skills in developing of the club. When you become a part of their team their spirit motivates and inspires you a lot. Also, I enjoy meeting people from over the world who are ready to share their stories and give advice of their integration in Switzerland."
Now is your chance to join others and give to the Ukraine Membership Fund 2023.
Centrepoint is extending the special membership offer for another year. But for that to succeed, we hope you will help. We are asking our regular members to donate to the Special Fund to underwrite the reduced memberships. This way we can be poised to continue underwriting CHF90 for every renewing or first-time S-Status* member.
Donations for this purpose should be paid via e-banking to the Centrepoint bank account.
Please use this special Ukraine membership fund 2023 QR bill to make your payment (click for larger version).
If you cannot use the special QR bill, please ensure that your e-banking payment specifies the following:
IBAN: CH05 0900 0000 4545 9899 5
BIC: POFICHBEXXX (if payment is from outside Switzerland)
Address: Centrepoint, Im Lohnhof 8, 4051 Basel
Purpose of payment: Ukraine Membership Fund 2023
Any size donation will be gladly accepted.
Andrea, Conversation Group Leader: "In my German class are people with 8 different nationalities, from 4 continents and we’re constantly learning from each other’s view of life. To have Viktoriya in our class is a great asset. We can learn from her experience about the former life but also about the massive impact the war is having on her and her family’s life."
Glen: "Centrepoint has always existed to promote human welfare. Yet it has never identified as a humanitarian organisation and, until the Ukrainian Initiative came into being, it has never done deep work to help people living in a state of abject need. Today, we are doing our bit to reduce the suffering of our brothers and sisters from Ukraine. At the same time, these people are enriching Centrepoint with their presence. I hope this beautiful symbiosis lives on."
Esther, Conversation Group Leader: "I look back on this year with Natalie [in our conversation group] with much gratitude. She has settled in quickly and enriches our lessons very much. Despite her difficult life situation, she shows up regularly and is highly motivated. She has developed incredibly well linguistically and is now even able to understand jokes about Swiss peculiarities. We all benefit from the exchange."
Jakob: "It was a good feeling to sense the refugees' interest. I enjoyed meeting them and admire them being able to be here and get involved while their homeland is being destroyed."
Jan: "I am full of admiration for our Ukrainians members. Their lives have been upended and yet they have managed to remain dignified, respectful, generous and warm-hearted. They are, in my view, helping to make Centrepoint an even better organisation than it has always been."