The Municipality of Macerata developed three publication as part of the project EPIC: a book “I WALKED” with testimonies from UaMs experience, a diary” WHO I AM AND WHO I WILL BE THE DIARY OF MY TRIP” and glossary “GLOSSARY WORD GUIDE USED IN PRACTICES OF SOCIAL SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE” for the UaM, valuing the good practices of the Social Policy Office of the Municipality of Macerata processed in the educational group of UaMs currently taken on through an active and multidisciplinary methodology.
Il Comune di Macerata ha realizzato tre pubblicazioni nell’ambito del progetto EPIC: un libro “HO CAMMINATO” con testimonianze dell’esperienza di minori stranieri non accompagnati, un diario “CHI SONO E CHI SARO’ IL DIARIO DEL MIO VIAGGIO” e il glossario “GUIDA ALLE PAROLE GLOSSARIE UTILIZZATE NELLE PRATICHE DEI SERVIZI SOCIALI PER L’INFANZIA E I GIOVANI” per i minori stranieri non accompagnati, valorizzando le buone prassi dell’Ufficio Politiche Sociali del Comune di Macerata elaborate nel gruppo educativo di i minori stranieri non accompagnati attualmente in carico attraverso una metodologia attiva e multidisciplinare.
One of the key elements of the EPIC project – European Practices for Integration and Care, is the exchange of good practices related to the reception of unaccompanied minors. Click here to see the photo album!
Sweden – Reach for Change
On the 14th and 15th of September 2021, the first of 7 field visits took place to exchange good practices on the topic of family foster care and alternative forms of reception for unaccompanied foreign minors and young people.
In Malmö, Sweden, Reach for Change organised several meetings with the municipality, associations in the field and integration professionals. Sandra Lundberg, Maher Akob and Per-Erik Ebbeståhl from the Malmö Municipality gave a comprehensive and inspiring overview of migration and integration in a municipality with more than 180 different nationalities. Kotada Yonus, founder of the Aktarr App, told the group about the 2015 migration emergency and Jeanette Berga presented BID Malmö, an urban community and development method to increase social cohesion and integration. Finally, social entrepreneurs supported by Reach for Change shared with the group about their experience working with migrants in Sweden.
Milan – Caritas Ambrosiana and Farsi Prossimo Onlus
In Milan, the partners of the EPIC project had the opportunity to listen to the experience of a foster family and about the project “Accoglienza in famiglia di adolescenti migranti soli”, which shows the fruitful collaboration to promote and support foster experiences.
The group also visited the Centre in via Zendrini, where they were told about the joys and difficulties of welcoming unaccompanied migrant children. To conclude, a dinner prepared by the young guests of the community Il Seme, who told the EPIC partners about their journey to Italy.
Macerata – Municipality of Macerata
The first part of the field visit was dedicated to the Reception Community for unaccompanied foreign minors managed by the Piombini Sensini association and to the precious resources available in the territory. These included foster families, who shared their touching experience welcoming foreign minors into their homes.
The second part of the visit recounted the journey of unaccompanied foreign minors in Macerata, from identification by the Municipal Police to the interview with the social services through cultural mediators. The EPIC partners were also introduced to the Municipality of Macerata who takes care of the reception and social-work integration of the children.
Prague – OPU
Another city, another good practice promoted by the EPIC project – European Practice for Integration and Care.
OPU presented its work to integrate unaccompanied foreign minors with lawyers, social workers and educators. Farid Ahmad Yar, who has been a reference point for the Afghan community in the Czech Republic for many years, told us about his experience as an immigrant, now well integrated in society.
The EPIC partners then visited the reception centre for foreign minors, where the director, Zuzana Chmeliřová Vučková, and the representative of the Office for the Protection of Minors, Václav Malich, explained how the reception system works, offering minors citizenship after five years in the country, and economic support up to the age of 24 for young people who want to study.
The last stop was the Half Way House, a self-sufficiency flat managed by Opu, where children are supported on their path to self-sufficiency and to find housing, which is not always an easy task.
Naples – Cidis Onlus
Cidis Onlus welcomed the partners to their office in Caserta, for a multi-voice account of their good practice in welcoming and helping young migrants.
In groups, they then visited the autonomy communities and flats managed by the CIDIS staff, where the youths learned how to live and integrate in the Italian territory.Back in Naples, the group visited the wonderful Casa CIDIS, a social enterprise, where young people can experience training and job placement.
Palermo – Municipality of Palermo
After a walk in the beautiful historical centre of Palermo, the EPIC partners visited the Casa dei Diritti of the Municipality of Palermo, where they listened to the process of welcoming unaccompanied foreign minors in Palermo.
The dinner was a convivial moment but also a stimulating one because it was held at Moltivolti, a social enterprise that integrates and promotes job placement for young people (in addition to offering an excellent dinner!).
The next morning, the group visited a host community for minors run by the Palermo-based association Stellaria. The visit ended with the testimony of Amara, who recently turned 18 and is looking for her own path into the world supported by her foster mother.
Madrid – Accem
From Madrid, where ACCEM’s headquarters are located, the EPIC project partners travelled by train to Guadalajara to hear about the reception system for unaccompanied foreign minors in this region.
The group then visited a shelter for minors in a situation of neglect, including unaccompanied foreign minors, for children and young people of all age groups and problems.
At “Casa Nazareth”, Djibril, Aboubacar and Agata shared their experience and the support they received until they turned 18 for training and job placement. Now some of them are working, Agata manages to take care of her young daughter who has been admitted to kindergarten and another young man is studying to be a car mechanic.
The workshop “Let’s take care of Villa Giaquinto together”, organised in Caserta by Cidis in the framework of the Popeye project, ended with a two-day event, on the 22nd and 23rd of May.
Throughout 15 meetings, unaccompanied migrant children from the Sai of Caserta – Casa Ariel, Casa Akim and Casa Amal – contributed to the redevelopment of Villa Gianquinto, a public park for children of over 9600 square metres, built on an area rescued from property speculation, right in the historic centre of Caserta. The young people, assisted by the tireless volunteers who manage the site, took care of the external areas of the park, creating a small vegetable garden with typical plants from the Campania region.
The initiative represented an opportunity for the youngsters to get closer to the world of voluntary work and to get to know those who live in the area, actively helping to raise awareness on ecological and environmental issues.
What amazed the children the most was the civic commitment of the volunteers of the Villa Giaquinto Coordination Board and of the citizens who, together, organised themselves to take care of the public spaces. It was an important moment of exchange for everyone that aimed at fostering integration and social inclusion.
“The importance of the involvement of the young beneficiaries of the project is the result of the belief that integration is achieved step by step by being and doing everything together,” says Irma Halili of Cidis, coordinator of Casa Ariel and Casa Amal, “So it was very important for us as operators to believe in it and to transmit it to the children by involving them and having them participate actively.”
During the course of the project, a very strong bond was created between the volunteers, the foreign minors and their Italian peers, and this is why the organisers are convinced that, regardless of the end of the project, the cleaning and maintenance activities will continue, as Halili herself explains: “Giving and receiving has an important meaning in feeling and living as an active part of society. Taking care of their new city is a very good starting point.”
The numbers of refugees arriving to Europe and to the Czech Republic are in general at record low since 2016. According to the UNHCR statistics on arrivals of refugees to Mediterranean – by far the main migration route to Europe – there were over 1 million refugees and migrants arriving to the Southern EU Member States in 2016, some 373 thousands in 2016, and “only” 95,031 individuals arriving to the Mediterranean countries in 2020. In the Czech Republic we keep recording minuscule numbers of new asylum applicants below 2000 persons annually. In 2020, a total number of 1164 persons applied in the Czech Republic for asylum, including children and Dublin cases.
Surprisingly, unaccompanied minor refugees and migrants (UAMs) are an exception to the decreasing numbers. In 2018, we recorded a total number of 31 children arriving alone in the Czech Republic. However, in 2020 66 children in total, and in April 2021, a total of 67 UAMs were accommodated in different children homes all over the country. Almost all of them were Afghan boys in the age close to 18, almost all of them openly saying that their final destination was not the Czech Republic. It seems that a new migration route to Western Europe via Serbia and Romania is the most likely explanation of this situation.
The Czech authorities, children homes and OPU had to react very quickly on this situation despite the difficult Covid restrictions. New children homes were appointed as temporary accommodation places in addition to the experienced and well equipped Home for Foreign Children in Prague (ZDC (Prague). This has been a difficult challenge for many of the newly appointed homes with staff having no experience with refugee or migrant children whatsoever and little willingness to improve it because many boys were leaving the centers after a few days. Some children homes even prevented OPU lawyers and EPIC expert from getting in touch with the UAMs and with the centers´ staff claiming that all needs of UAMs are satisfied and the disappearances are anyway inevitable. The Covid pandemic restrictions were the authorities´ reason to stop some key OPU services in the centers, which has improved in the meantime.
In fact this lesson proved the importance of alternatives like the ones offered by the EPIC project. In a crisis situation and even more in normal situations, alternative family care is necessary, suitable and the cheapest option of care for foreign children without parents. It provides individualized care tailored to the needs of every child. Without a monitoring system that can help following the “destiny” of the child, a broader integration network is a necessary precondition for a faster and more successful integration of those UAMs who stay in the country and start their new lives in the Czech Republic.
An official list of Recommendations and a joint Statement were released today by EPIC partner organizations following the seven e-roundtables held from the 22nd of October to the 2nd of December 2020, with the aim to improve alternative care services for Unaccompanied Migrant Children.
The roundtables, which were organized online due to the current pandemic emergency, were attended by EPIC partner organizations and over 250 stakeholders. The aim was to share experiences and good practice related to their efforts to welcome and support migrant children who find themselves alone in the host countries.
Along with the Recommendations, the nine EPIC partners released an official statement committing to creating more inclusive and welcoming cities. The statement calls for citizens and institutions in every European city to promote and support the integration and flourishing of unaccompanied migrant children with the goal to build a more inclusive and respectful Europe.
The Recommendations and the official Statement may be found below in English, Spanish, Italian and Czech.
Fondazione L’Albero della Vita presented a few days ago, on the 10 December 2020, the volume “Due famiglie per Crescere. Riflessioni e proposte per favorire l’affido famigliare” (Two families to grow. Reflections and proposals to boost family fostering).
The book, published by Carocci, collects several contributions on the instrument of foster care, its use in Italy and possible prospects for development. There is also room for the Italian experience of foster care for unaccompanied migrant children, a practice strongly encouraged by the institutions, but which is certainly difficult to systematize throughout the country.
The publication was presented at the conference “Far vivere e crescere l’affido oggi”. High- profile professionals from the institutional, academic and non-profit world participated to the event, offering perspectives of dialogue and reflection, with the aim of encouraging the development of foster care and improving existing practices. Among the speakers Laura Purpura, coordinator of the foster care services for our project partner Comune di Palermo, intervened in the session “Approaches and experiences of family foster care – public and private”.
Epic member Reach for Change has together with a local incubator BLING Startup been granted support from the Swedish Postcode Foundation. The initiative aims to work for a more inclusive social innovation sector and empower social entrepreneurs from socio-economically vulnerable areas.
“For 10 years, Reach for Change has worked to identify and support social entrepreneurs in Sweden and around the world. We see that those who live close to the problems are those who are best suited to solve them. But there are structural challenges that make it more difficult for some local innovators to be successful – for example, depending on where they grow up, they may not have access to capacity building support, networks and capital. This means that society is missing out on social innovations with the potential to create real change”, says Nicklas Wallberg Country Manager Sweden, Reach for Change.
Through the initiative, Reach for Change and BLING Startup will make entrepreneurship more accessible and recognized as a potential career path in socio-economically vulnerable areas in Sweden. The organizations will develop collaborations with the local community, the public sector and the business sector with the goal to connect these communities with the assets available in the greater Swedish startup ecosystem.
The key activity for the initiative is the Entrepreneurship Competition “För-orten” (For the suburb), that was initiated by BLING Startup, BK Bussen and Atletico Rinkeby in 2018. The competition, which previously was held in one community outside of Stockholm, will expand next year into a national initiative.
“Through the competition, we provide an infrastructure that evens out the conditions in the entrepreneurship sector and makes more people dare to go after and realize their dreams and ideas,” says Deqa Abukar, co-founder of BLING Startup.
The European Commission presented earlier this autumn, on 23 September, the New Pact for Migration and Asylum, a document long awaited by all parties involved in the management of migration processes in Europe, which also includes aspects of child protection in migration. With this document, the Commission aims to “structure a framework that ensures a fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity between Member States and at the same time guarantees certainty for all individuals seeking international protection in Europe”.*
Two macro areas of action are therefore outlined: – The efficiency of the system of border control and verification procedures, which can speed up waiting times and guarantee respect for human rights, through an independent monitoring mechanism; – A distribution of the famous quotas of migrants among the Member States, organized however through three different options, which States have the freedom to choose. Each State would then have an allocated quota of migrants; however, it can decide whether to receive the migrants, sponsor the return, giving the necessary economic resources for such return to the country of first arrival, or support to third countries for the management outside the EU borders of migrants, or of those being returned.
With regard to the specific issue of the protection of minors and unaccompanied or separated migrant children, there are certainly aspects of attention:
widened the definition of family giving the possibility of reunification also between siblings;
the right to remain in a Member State where a diploma has been obtained is guaranteed,
more emphasis and attention is given to the respect of the principle of the best interest of the child,
access to education systems without discrimination,
as well as respect for the right of the child to be heard during the entry procedures, and
the commitment to implement alternatives to detention for children and their families.
However, the decision to exclude only UASC and children under the age of 12 from border procedures was of particular concern, thus reducing protection for all children aged 12 to 18 years. In fact, it should be remembered that border procedures very often provide for detention. This rule, together with the rule providing for the possibility to detain children and UASC for national security reasons, contrasts with international and regional standards that consider such detention practices as a violation of children’s rights.** Civil Society has reacted with a certain degree of critics to the document, underling the failure to overcome the Dublin mechanism and a structure that risks to not guaranteeing the respect of migrants’ rights. Nonetheless, also the political parties in the European Parliament, as well as the Member States have expressed their doubts about the proposal. On the one hand those who define it as still not very brave in imposing a principle of solidarity between states, on the other hand those who want at all costs to elude the management of migrants and do not like this new optional mechanism either. The reactions once again shade the light on the different political positions Member States reiterate on the migration .topic. The hope is that European Institutions will start from this proposal and will try to find the right compromise among States without failing to protect migrants’ human rights. Here you can download the fact-sheet with summary information on the new pact for migration and asylum, or the full text is available here.
* New Pact on Migration and Asylum factsheet European Commission
The Municipality of Macerata has activated two specific projects to face the Covid19 Emergency providing help and assistance to its citizens: Macerata Vicina and SOSteniamoci.
The Macerata Vicina project was born with the aim of providing support to the fragile population during the lockdown. During these two months people in need hav had the possibility to call a toll-free number active every day from 08.30 to 18.30. A group of volunteers was always available and ready to operate from the headquarters of the Social services provider company (Azienda Pubblica Servizi alla Parsona IRCR). During these two months, they offered their services to carry out home delivery of necessities (food, medicines, bags for recycling and IPR donated by various associations) to all the people asking for help.
The phone number registerd a total of 3,228 calls, all of which were answered to the full satisfaction of the citizens, as witnessed by the thanks that arrived in the feedback. The success of the project comes from the effective networking between public, private and voluntary organizations that have constantly coordinated, 23 meetings and about 2,000 online contacts in just two months!
The project “#SOSteniamoci – no one saves himself alone” includes two actions: a crowdfunding campaign and a food collection in supermarkets. For this last action, the following have actively collaborated: the Social Services for the reception of requests for help, the Listening and First Reception Centre for the operational management of reports and the Civil Protection, with the contribution of private social workers and volunteers from the National Civil Service, for the operational collection and home delivery of food parcels; parcels made up of the goods generously donated by the citizens.
Particularly significant was the donation made by an American citizen of Macerata origin, who bought 52 kilos of pasta from a pasta factory in the Sibylline Mountains that had been hit by the earthquake to donate to the citizens most in need, thus combining two acts of solidarity and two continents.