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8 EPIC pilot projects are launched!

Published on 23/06/2022

After more than two intense years of research analysis, capacity building and events, the time to deploy the knowledge gained into practical-oriented solutions benefiting migrants has arrived!

One of the main objectives of EPIC is to ensure the transfer of knowledge and experience on migrant integration among local authorities (LAs) and NGOs, and thus create a “European” dimension of migrant integration based on principles of solidarity, support, and efficiency. It was therefore essential for our project to ensure that the knowledge acquired through the different research and capacity-building activities was put into practice, in order to promote and achieve positive changes on migrant integration in local territories.

This is taking place through 8 well-thought pilot initiatives seeking to provide services and mechanisms that can facilitate and boost migrants’ integration at local level, in the short and long term.

Led by the Metropolitan Area of Gdansk, the 8 cities of the project have now concluded the preparatory phase, presented their strategy to the rest of the consortium partners and kicked off the pilot activities in spring 2022.

Testing is an essential part of any project, whereby the solutions proposed are monitored and checked against indicators of quality and success. This is also a key part of EPIC, which wants to ensure that targeted LAs through the skills newly acquired are able to deliver new services and policies for a more efficient reception and inclusion of their migrant population.

Each implementing partner will carry out the evaluation of the respective pilot project, based on a grid previously prepared by the University Colleague of London (UCL) partner, in charge of the research dimension of the project. The data collected in the evaluation of the pilot projects will be compared to data previously acquired during the inception phase. An external evaluator that will visit some pilot projects and access the evaluation questionnaires developed will also support the evaluation process. Upon completion, the pilot projects and their evaluation will provide a chance to assess positive improvements and developments with regards to the services provided at local level.

Find out more about each pilot project below!

Intercultural activities in Alrcorcón (Madrid). By Solidaridad sin Fronteras

SSF started pilot project activities in March 2022, working in school and educational centres in Madrid, Spain, where young people of different backgrounds share their cultural heritage (religion, music, food, photos of their cities/traditions, clothing, dance, sports, etc.). The activities’ objective focuses on breaking barriers, promoting a positive mindset about diversity and finding common grounds through art, sport and culture. During the different events, youngsters will also be encouraged to create videos, art performances, an exhibition or anything that inspired them after getting to know about the richness that the cultural heritage of their peers has to offer. The pilot project will close with a final exhibition around several schools in the last quarter of 2022.

MiTHA – Migrants Tailored Housing Action. By the Municipality of Brescia and ADL Zavidovici.

In Brescia, Italy, the MiTHA Pilot project aims to assist migrant families in successful settlement into communities and to empower community-based relationships, working in partnership with the districts’ social services and the communities’ stakeholders.  Interviews, focus groups and social theatrical and innovative Labs are some of the tools that the pilot project is implementing.  

The main expected result is to increase awareness about housing practices and their social impact on good neighbouring relationships. It’s also about a more systemic social intervention, tailored to each specific migrant family, including needs, culture and relationships, in which they can find themselves as the main characters of the integration process. 

Inclusive Schools. By the Metropolitan Area of Gdansk.

A total of 150 teachers from 20 schools will receive a 37-hour training on the psychological consequences of migration, inclusion/exclusion dynamics and inter-group relations, active tools of integration planning within schools and classrooms, functional diagnosis of a pupil and how to design his/her individual development plan and other different teaching methodologies. An acculturation and adaptation training of trainers as well as workshops for parents of migrant kids will be carried out. Pedagogical games and a film regarding inclusion will also be implemented in the 20 schools.

The current humanitarian crisis in Ukraine has heavily affected the project. The Metropolitan Area of Gdansk decided to take advantage of the pilot project to also tackle the important issue of how to deal with refugee trauma by professionals in different sectors. They will work with Polish civil society and administration workers to develop their competences to create safe spaces and deal with people in refugee trauma

Enhancing the access of third-country nationals in the labour market. By the Municipality of Ioannina.

While employment is typically the most effective way to fast-track both social and economic integration, it may not be equally attainable for all. A significant number of refugees and asylum seekers in Ioannina have not obtained tax numbers, or bank cards and are not registered in the national registry of the Manpower Organization; this minimises their equal access to the labour market. This pilot project aims to tackle the administrative obstacles to obtaining the documents and services required while accessing the local labour market by training migrants in professions, which are in demand in the Greek labour market (agricultural sector, tourism, construction etc.) to enhance relevant knowledge and skills, as well as to identify professions related to cultural traditions that are currently declining in Ioannina and for which migrants could be a driving force.

Local Oberhausen App. By the Municipality Oberhausen and kitev.

The times of the pandemic in Oberhausen, Germany, unfortunately meant that important discussions on the topic of migrants‘ inclusion could not take place as often as they usually did or were sometimes cancelled. This also had a negative effect on such important cooperation and coordination among different actors to provide particularly targeted support to vulnerable groups, between several institutions with different but complementary focusses. The pilot project will tackle this by organising some networking events and creating a long-term digital platform that will enable all NGOs and municipal institutions to permanently exchange offers and services within the city.

This platform should be divided into two levels. The first level will be quickly and easily accessible for all institutions to enable the creation of offers or information. The second level will be visible to the public, and accessible at any time by private individuals searching for information.  

Social support system for refugees in Porto. By JRS Portugal. 

Servico Jesuíta aos Refugiados – JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) plays a crucial role in the process of migrant population integration in Portugal since 1992, with a main office in Lisbon. In the current context of severe humanitarian crises like the ones in Afghanistan and Ukraine, the JRS Portugal team has been deploying great efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, accommodation and other services covering basic needs for the refugees. The pilot project became the opportunity to scale up such support in the area of Porto, where right now JRS Portugal has a more limited capacity. It will create a social support system and assure employability to refugees, by providing targeted assistance for Ukrainians arriving in Portugal. It will target 60 refugees per month, providing them with different supporting services for a few months first, and with follow up assistance afterwards, to ensure refugees continue to have accommodation or are under employment, education or training in the medium and long term.

Job matching online system in Sardinia. By Studio e Progetto 2 and the Municipality of Sardinia.

Thanks to the job shadowing activities for the Metropolitan Area of Gdansk website, the region of Sardinia pilot project was inspired to create an online system to improve the job match-making between people with a migration background and employers. A communication and dissemination campaign to reach out to potential users of the job matchmaking platform will be carried out through different local and regional media channels. The second part of the project focused on a public call for ideas to make some activities in the Sardinian territory, such as vocational training and contracts with employment experts.

Improving employment opportunities and community building for migrants in Sisak. By the Municipality of Sisak and JRS Croatia

The ambitious pilot project designed by the Croatian partners has a twofold objective. On the one hand, the pilot will provide training and education workshops for migrants in need of a job to improve their employability. Later on, a roundtable bringing together migrant job seekers and local employers will be held in Sisak. Intercultural workshops for children whose parents are participating in the employment activities will also be provided. On the other hand, the pilot wants to strengthen the community ties, bringing all neighbours regardless of their background together through leisure activities such as literary events. A cultural mediator of migrant background will be hired by the pilot project to act as the link between the local migrant communities and the local organisations.

In the upcoming months, the cities will be presenting the results achieved in each territory and the results of the pilot project evaluation towards the end of 2022. Stay tuned for more!

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