The integration of refugees in Portugal is mostly designed according to a top-down logic, with little to no participation of refugees and the host communities. Our idea, taking place in Braga, aims to create safe environments to listen to refugees' experiences and recommendations, to promote moments for them to share this knowledge with local decision-makers and the community, and to bring all these actors together to design and implement solutions for a better refugees' integration.
Braga, North, Portugal
It is important that the integration process in Braga is designed beyond meeting the immediate needs of refugees. There is still a lack of structures and mechanisms in the municipality that allow greater participation by refugees in decision-making processes. At the same time, we see the importance of creating bridges between community and refugees, as a way of avoiding isolation and strengthening the idea that everyone can have an impact on the integration process.
In order for refugees in the municipality to be effectively integrated into society, we plan to foster the existence of spaces that continuously enhance the conviviality, dialogue and involvement of refugees and local actors in the search for solutions related to integration.
The integration of refugees can be seen from two sets of actions that take place side by side: while ensuring that the experiences and recommendations of refugees contribute to the development of more assertive public policies, there is also an interest in mobilizing the community and civil society, so that solutions for community integration of refugees can be thought of together. From this, we visualize the following target groups:
• Refugees living in Braga (urban and rural areas, around 60-80 people)
• Local policy makers
• Professionals who work with the reception and integration of refugees
• Members of major civil society organizations and associations
• Members of civil society
• Volunteers from MEERU | Abrir Caminho
1. Online meetings with partners, refugees and policymakers to present the project (presentation of activities, schedule and alignment of expectations).
2. Conviviality moment with refugees: to get to know each other in person and start building relationships of trust.
3. Listening sessions: refugees share their experiences on the integration system and give recommendations on how to be better integrated by the community.
4. ComParte em Fusão: informal and multicultural dinner to create closeness, moments of sharing and bonding between refugees and other members of civil society.
5. Meetings with local decision-makers: refugees share with local decision-makers their integration experience and recommendations on what could be improved by the public services for a better integration (housing, employment, etc.).
6. Moments of co-creation of solutions: mediated by ComParte and MEERU, refugees present their integration experiences and recommendations to decision-makers, professionals and civil society, and from then they think together of solutions for a better community integration.
7. Content analysis: the refugees' experiences and recommendations are analyzed, as well as the learnings from the community integration solutions process.
8. Creation of guidelines: a booklet is created that summarizes the content collected and a set of good practices to be replicated.
• Greater knowledge of the reality of refugees by decision-makers, professionals and civil society;
• Refugees start to occupy spaces for participation in decision-making processes;
• Increased feelings of trust and reciprocity between refugees and other members of civil society;
• Development of a collaborative culture between different actors of society;
• Civil society more involved in the integration of refugees;
• Integration solutions thought together;
• Locals learn more about different cultures and life stories;
• Creation of a working tool (booklet) that facilitates the decision-making process;
• Possible influence on the design of the next Local Plan for the Integration of Migrants due to the activities of the project.
This project aims to pave the way for thinking about integration from two dimensions: 1) Through the participation and involvement of refugees in decision-making processes; 2) Through the involvement of civil society. Regarding the first, we foresee actions where the perspectives and experiences of refugees are valued and inspire the work of decision-makers and professionals working in the area of integration. Regarding the second, we promote integration not only regarding public policies, but also focused on the importance of creating connections between refugees and the local community. To this end, we promote activities where everyone can think about integration from a common perspective.
ComParte team has been dedicated to promoting the participation and involvement of refugees in decision-making processes in different Portuguese municipalities. We intend to implement our methodology also in Braga because it has a strong capacity to inspire other locations in the northern region. This project is also important for us as we will be proposing actions that enhance integration through community involvement, with the support of MEERU | Abrir Caminho - that already works for reducing social isolation of migrant families through informal support networks in Braga. Our work is strengthened by having as partners the City Council of Braga and, as a result, organizations that develop projects with refugees in the municipality.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project Management and Human Resources: 31.000€
- 1 full-time coordinator, 1 part-time refugee working as a consultant
Materials and Communication: 2.000€
- Production of Booklet, translation, activities materials, communication materials
Fee to MEERU | Abrir Caminho: 2.000€
- Human resources and travel costs for the activities held by MEERU
*ComParte will assure an investment of 20.480€ on the project, that covers the costs of 1 full-time technician and traveling costs.*
Any feedback is very welcome, especially by those who work with participation and involvement of migrants and refugees in the decision-making processes and with integration from a community perspective.