On 8th February Fondazione ISMU (Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità) organised a European Workshop on “Building inclusive cities together – How to enable diaspora stakeholders in the development and provision of local integration services”. The event marked the official end of NEAR – Newly Arrived in a Common Home, a project funded under the EU Asylum, Integration and Migration Fund that aims at fostering social orientation of newly arrived migrants during their settlement in the receiving countries. Thanks to the efforts of project partners, the project has been piloted in four cities across three EU countries, namely Milan (ISMU, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milano), Perugia (TAMAT NGO), Lisbon (AIDGLOBAL) and Nicosia (CARDET), and modelled into a set of resources for migrants, stakeholder and policymakers.
As part of the event, ISMU presented the six strategies developed during NEAR on how to fully unleash the potential of diaspora stakeholders as integration actors. The strategies, that can potentially support the work of policymakers and civil society actors working at local level, were discussed and consolidated in a working session with 30 participants that represented EU and local actors providing a variety of local integration services. The following event takeaways were included in a policy brief that will be published at the end of February.
How to identify diaspora stakeholders strategically
Mapping diaspora groups is a key preliminary step in any engagement strategy as it allows to know who is active on the target territory and ultimately cater to newly arrived migrants via their network. To that end, having a clear idea of the city/neighbourhood where integration support can be provided is also fundamental to quickly enable the right actors.
Diaspora stakeholders are very diverse and provide support in different way following different rationales. For instance, asylum seekers and refugees interact with members of their or other national group in a specific way due to their migration path. Some migrants act or want to act beyond institutional structure without being affiliated to specific organisations. Reasons to help range from pan-regionalism to language affinity and interest in specific target groups (children, women etc.). While buddying integration programmes between long-term migrant residents and newly arrived migrants are considered to be very effective in terms of language and personal history, some diaspora stakeholders do not even think of themselves as influencers or key informants within their community due to low self-esteem or low self-awareness. Major age differences in integration support exist, with young people with a migrant background having lower affinity in terms of language and reasons for leaving the country of origin.