Overall, 7 projects have been selected through the two calls selection processes. These projects tackle the complex challenge of integration with a mix of tools that can simultaneously intervene upon the several dimensions (identity, psychology, culture, sociality, professionalism) of the integration process. Looking at the selected projects in 2015 and 2016 gives an overview on how urban authorities are implementing them to tackle the entire integration process –encompassing key challenges such as reception, training, work, legal assistance, health care and social mediation.
• CURANT – Co-housing and case management for Unaccompanied young adult Refugees in ANTwerp
• S.A.L.U.S. ‘W’ SPACE - Sustainable Accessible Liveable Usable Social space for intercultural Wellbeing, Welfare and Welcoming, Bologna
• U-RLP – Utrecht Refugee Launch Pad, Utrecht
• CoRE - Centre of Refugee Empowerment, Vienna
• Curing the Limbo – From apathy to active citizenship: Empowering refugees and migrants in limbo state to ignite housing affordability, Athens
• MiFRIENDLY CITIES, Coventry
• MILMA Project - Migrants Labour Integration Model based on Acculturation Project
Looking at the 7 projects gives an overview of the crosscutting issues that urban authorities are dealing with. Overall, the projects are addressing the migrants and refugees integration, capitalizing on local communities, developing tailor-made services in a one-stop shop approach.
Tailor made services and one to one approaches
Considering the diversity of the individuals involved, urban authorities stress on the need of personalised case management and support services that match migrants’ individual needs and that can be adjusted along the way. To do so, they mainly use housing solutions and job trainings as tools to develop their tailor made integration strategy. The experience of the CURANT project in Antwerp brings forth the reflection on how a less costly personalized management can be implemented. The key element of Antwerp’s strategy to address this challenge is a housing solution that makes a match between a newcomer and a native, providing the young refugee with a shelter, language training and social support.
Job autonomy is also a key driver for integration that need tailor made support as experienced in Utrecht. The U-RLP project is implementing training solutions that rely on personalized job coaching in order to address the specific needs of the emergency centre residents. It does integrate the short-term solution into a larger integration process that include asylum seekers as well as low-skilled local young people. To achieve such level of adaptation to people needs, many projects develop participation approaches, facilitating self-empowerment. It is indeed on of the main layout of Vienna’s project. CoRE project consists of a Community Center, which is co-designed and adapted along the way by its beneficiaries, thus provide them with more user-oriented services and instruments. This perspective allows the project to focus on integrating skills and competences assessment already during the asylum procedure, a process that highly corresponds to newcomers integration needs. Indeed, activities in the field of career planning, competence development and specific trainings facilitate refugees’ readiness for the labour market.
One-stop-shop for inclusion
How the integration services are organised in space can play an important role in supporting refugees and asylum seekers to integrate faster and better for at least two reasons. First, the arrival period is critical to the long-term integration. Migrants and refugees need to clear support and guidance through the administrative process. Second, interactions with the host community is widely thought to have an impact on migrants and refugees integration path. Considering these two points, many projects develop integration strategies that combine one-stop-shop solutions to provide a comprehensive range of services at one single location; and integrate it within a specific area and community. Projects providing housing units (Antwerp, Utrecht) or a community and services facility to concentrate services dedicated to migrants’ integration (Vienna, Bologna) are taking an area-based approach. For instance, Vienna integrated its centre within the local community by offering community spaces as well as service spaces within the CoRE (Centre for Refugee Empowerment). The facility acts as a dedicated space for migrants to access to a wide range of co-designed activities that contribute to empower them. Indeed, as stated in the UIA report on the topic, formal governmental services and city levels for long-term settlement benefit from being co-located in one-stop-shops in central locations. Bologna’s project, the S.A.L.U.S. ‘W’ SPACE very much relies on the regeneration of an abandoned area into a refugee centre and a community place (Villa SALUS). This renewal project is an opportunity to foster the community’s acceptance of the newcomer’s arrival by giving local residents both a pro-active role the integration process. The centre will be the common place for the locals and newcomers to exchange and participate to joint activities including job trainings, multi-ethnic restaurant, co-working place, artistic workshops, etc. Utrecht’s project take another approach to the challenge. The U-RLP project provides housing for migrants and refugees in a deprived neighbourhood, therefore needs to find ways to bring them to live together and share a neighbourhood. Thus, the project organises activities on the site, in order to mix the local community with the newcomers.
Capitalising on and strengthening communities’ capacities to integrate
The integration strategy tends to cut across many policy fields and thus require a seamless process to break down immigrant policy silos and have a strong integrative potential, bringing together newcomers with established communities as actors within the project. Assuming that interaction between newcomers and the local community has a great impact on their integration trajectory, the urban authorities tend to develop communities’ activities in order to create good communication conditions between them. Projects such as the MILMA and MiFRIENDLY CITIES have proven that activities devoted to community building, networking and the creation of social and professional horizontal connections are key in the integration and empowerment process. In the first one, the local authority of Fuenlabrada organizes strong private-public partnership in order to test formative process within seven market niches called Business Challenges (BCs). In parallel, it sets up a collaborative way of working between locals and migrants, gathered together into “Experimental Teams of Employment and Integration” (ETEIs) in order to foster newcomers’ integration. Conventry’s project, MiFRIENDLY CITIES also works on local companies’ connection with migrants or refugees by organizing a Business Leaders’ Forum. They provide the employers with a toolkit and the job seekers with intensive training in advanced digital manufacturing to match businesses needs to migrants’ skills. As Bologna’s project, Curing the Limbo, in Athens, is also capitalising on the cities’ civil society to help refugees and the local unemployed to overcome the twofold issue of housing and inactivity. Refugees receive affordable living spaces from the city’s available housing stock and in return, they work for the public benefit, supporting the needs of the local community and participating in citizen-led activities that improve quality of life in Athenian neighbourhoods. At the same time, the Curing the Limbo project addresses the issue of making visible and supporting civil society’s initiatives, the vacant dwellings problem and the vulnerable and low-skilled people integration.