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GOOD PRACTICES IN MIGRANTS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS INTEGRATION IN ALCORCON (SPAIN)

Published on 29/03/2022

Solidaridad sin Fronteras (SSF) has been implementing projects for the socio-economic integration of migrant populations since 2010. The success lies in the close cooperation with both public and private entities at the local and regional level as well as in a working method based on individualised attention through counselling based on the needs detected.

Alcorcon is located 19 kilometres from the Spanish capital of Madrid and has a population of 172,000 habitants. The Ageing population, with around 23% of the population being 65 years of age or older, and the average age around 44 years old, is a significant feature of the population structure conditioning to a great extent the policies and priorities of the city. The current percentage of foreign population in Alcorcon is 10%, mainly formed by economic migrants of people in working age. By nationality, 1 out of 4 migrants are from Romania, followed by Moroccans, Ukrainians and in recent years, many migrants from South American countries have settled in this city. 

Because of the increase in foreign population between 2000 and 2007, it was decided to create a specific service department in the city of Alcorcon to support migrants, defined as “Service of Cultural Mediation”. Such service aims to guarantee closer attention in the first moments of the migration process, when people need more information and accompaniment. While this first reception service is specific for foreigners, migrants can access any other service available to all citizens as well. 

In addition, the municipality works on many other integration projects, among which we can highlight three:  

  • The project for family reunification. This initiative offers not only administrative support but also psychosocial support by organising activities that allow these families and their regrouped members to interact among them to develop ties and support networks.
  • The training program “Know your Laws” provides foreigner people regularising their situation in Spain with knowledge about Spanish culture and law. 
  • In addition, the Commission of Integration is a community service instrument carried out by the Municipality of Alcorcon in conjunction with the different entities specialised in social intervention with migrant people in the territory. The commission meets frequently to address the different issues migrants in Alcorcon face. 

This framework, but not only, is where the EPIC partner Solidaridad Sin Fronteras (SSF) collaborates with the Municipality of Alcorcon for many years. 

SSF has been implementing projects for the socio-economic integration of migrant populations since 2010. They started out with research and analysis, gradually building expertise and competence in other areas such as migrant family-related projects in 2012, legal counselling in 2014, even development cooperation in Bolivia in 2012-2015, etc. Since 2017, SSF has been implementing labour and employment-related projects, funded by both public and private entities.

. The working method of the employment area of SSF consists mainly of:

  • The individualised attention through counselling based on the needs detected
  • The delivery of pre-employment workshops, also based on the needs identified but at a collective level;
  • The guidance on training resources
  • Finally, the prospect and intermediation with companies to facilitate the labour integration of the beneficiaries. 

To achieve that ultimate goal, SSF has signed cooperation agreements with companies that send them job offers to meet their needs. SSF analyses the profiles of the participants in order to act as a facilitator between the companies and the candidates. This is a key role as most one of the main needs detected among beneficiaries is support to improve their abilities and knowledge concerning job-search tools. 

The methodology SSF used is based on the European Integration System and it includes five areas:

  1. The recognition area: first interview and introduction to the project and organisation, establishing a set of objectives through an individual itinerary after it. 
  2. Training: assessment of what skills and competencies need to be developed or strengthened to achieve the objectives set, followed by individual counselling sessions and group workshops. 
  3. Employment: analysis and determination of the professional interest and objectives.
  4. Mobility: revision of the employment objectives against the skills and competencies.
  5. Monitoring: follow up and evaluation of the participants’ inclusion process. 

The success of these services depends very much on the great coordination efforts between SSF and different areas of the Municipality of Alcorcon, such as the social services, different mental health resources, or health centres. This includes weekly meetings, submissions of bimonthly reports on the overall intervention process, or other specific reports upon request such as information of social exclusion from the job offers of participants.

As important as labour market integration, is to work on emotional education and social issues for a more cohesive multicultural society. This is what SSF approaches through their “Among equals” (Entre iguales) project, funded by the Autonomous Community of Madrid. It is a project that year after year looks at how to empower through participatory sessions with young people, conscious citizens. SSF meets with the educational team of the High Schools to design, based on the group needs, the priorities, activities and materials for the sessions. Topics may include problem-solving techniques, cohabitation, promotion of respect within family or among peers, emotional education, social and political participation, social mentoring. Formal and informal assessments through surveys and face-to-face consultations are done to evaluate and readjust the sessions.

In culturally diverse societies, it is paramount to understand and respect others, and to have the resources to better solve social problems we find in our way. Non-curricular education can offer complementary powerful resources to understand complex societal challenges. 

Watch below our videos explaining the different collaborations and projects the Municipality of Alrcorcon and SSF has to support migrants in Madrid

EPIC Good practices: multi-stakeholders interventions to support migrants integration in Alcorcon

EPIC Good practices: the “Among equals” initiative in Madrid

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