Three and a half years of project is a lot of food for thought and to write about !
This EPIC final publication aims to summarise what these 3.5 years of work have meant for the EPIC project, its partners and all the organisations and individuals who have somehow benefited from this initiative. The timeframe and collaborative environment of the project provided the partners with the incredible opportunity to look from different angles at the complexity of local realities within their migratory and administrative contexts, and the opportunity, or the headache, of readjusting plans several times amid a context that posed difficulties never experienced at the global level. The COVID-19 pandemic, which hit migrant communities more harshly than other communities, the fall of the government in Afghanistan, and the war in Ukraine, brought unprecedented challenges for those working on the frontline, as it is the case for many EPIC partners and the necessity of changing plans rapidly to give priority to the most pressing issues. Despite this, the project has managed to reinvest and conclude its activities by ensuring that its co-creation and implementation have been carried out through a human-rights approach.
The project kicked off with a baseline analysis (research phase -chapter 2) designed to first understand how individuals perceive and refer to processes and practices of settlement, belonging and place-making. And secondly, to identify perceived priorities and challenges in terms of accessing and enjoying the ‘right to the city’ (including access to urban provision systems related to housing, education, healthcare, and job market, and participation in social and political life). This baseline analysis laid the foundation to identify the main areas of intervention for each EPIC partner city, design a capacity-building process answering to the concrete needs of each territory (chapter 3) and ultimately, to co-produce new practices that reduce urban inequality (the EPIC pilot projects; chapter 4).
EPIC started by launching an online survey collecting information on migration and integration practices in the EU. In the end, nearly 700 residents from 11 European cities shared their thoughts. The results of the survey, interviews, focus groups and desk research were published in the Unsettling integration: EPIC research report in late 2020. After a first year of fruitful analysis and discussion that allowed the project to have a deeper understanding of migration, and once the best practices and needs of each territory were identified, the project created pairs among partners formed by one Local authority (LA) and one NGO with expertise in a specific sector on migrants’ integration and one LA and NGO that needed support to acquire skills in that specific area. EPIC’s fundamental idea is that cities and regions in the EU have been dealing with migration issues for many years, some for longer than others, but the nature of the challenges are very often similar and therefore, cities could (and should) learn from each other to manage those challenges in the most effective way for both migrants and host societies, ideally making them a cohesive whole. Hence, the EPIC cities became their own mentors-mentees in a process where ‘matched cities’ taught each other.
In parallel, EPIC’s partners became familiar with communication tools to deconstruct stereotypes and prejudices about migration as well as strategies and methodologies to design alternative narrative campaigns. In this framework, the project organised a series of webinars and participatory workshops with the partners using a dedicated toolkit to design their communication strategy and eventually, deliver 8 local alternative communication campaigns about migration (chapter 6).
The EPIC final publication details the main elements of this journey, the main achievements and the lessons learned to continue working towards a society capable of delivering more inclusive services for all.
We hope you enjoy it!
The EPIC team
Available in 8 languages: English, Croatian, Italian, Greek, German, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish