COOPERATIVA SOCIALE CAMELOT – INTEGRATED SYSTEM OF FIRST HOSPITALITY ACTIONS FOR ADULT AND UNACCOMPANIED MINOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS IN FERRARA AND BOLOGNA

Context

Cooperativa Sociale Camelot, works in the Emilia-Romagna region with a particular focus in the provinces of Ferrara and Bologna since 1999 through actions of support and assistance to migrants and refugees. As of today the region hosts around 3500 asylum seekers and refugees in projects activated by the Ministry of Interior in order to respond to the increase, roughly since the beginning of 2014, in migratory fluxes of asylum seekers arriving by sea and land. On its own Cooperativa Camelot hosts around 360 asylum seekers and refugees: adults, families and unaccompanied minors.

Description of the initiative

The initiative responds to the following needs:

  • Prepare an integrated system of social actions answering refugees’ educational needs in a continued manner;
  • Deliver hospitality, protection and integration services to refugees in coordination with public bodies in charge of defining procedures and objectives ;
  • Create a pool of professionals in the following fields: social, sanitary, educational, legal. These professionals should act in a coordinated, effective and ongoing manner in order to respect national and international laws protecting asylum seekers from the moment of their request.
  • Break down the actions on the basis of effective needs with particular reference to their characteristics (age, gender, psycho-social condition) and vulnerabilities ;
  • Plan refugee integration on the long run considering, on the one hand effective life perspective and ease of accessing the labour market, and on the other local situation of hosting environment.
  • Plan and implement clear, direct and coherent guidelines that aim at protecting fundamental asylum seekers’ rights, with a particular focus on sanitary aspects and vulnerabilities

Implementation of the initiative

These projects are addressed to adult, families and unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in hospitality projects in Ferrara and Bologna. In addition such projects foresee the following common characteristics:

  1. Public bodies are involved on an ongoing basis for the planning of actions, such as : municipalities of Ferrara and Bologna, local departments of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ferrara and Bologna, social services and healthcare systems ;
  2. Institutional actors play a role of responsibility, monitoring and addressing actions, while Cooperativa Camelot deals with the operational coordination of activities;
  3. Undertaken actions foresee an articulated partnership between different actors from the third sector (associations, social cooperatives) each with different roles and skills.

In Ferrara:

A temporary association of companies composed of independent associations was created in Ferrara in order to participate to the call for bids which included the implementation of a series of actions aimed at protecting asylum seekers. As of today 11 associations are involved and they work in the following different spheres of action: socio-educational, legal consultancies, hospitality of over 650 asylum-seekers arrived after fleeing persecution and war. The project has been carried out with the participation of the whole provincial territory of Ferrara with the scope of avoiding the creation of concentration and ghetto-style camps which generally impede integration, create difficulties in establishing relations with the local populations and at the same time are not easy to manage. In order to create a florid and advantageous hospitality programme for adult guests, on top of implementing typical activities such as languages courses, sanitary screening, legal assistance, efforts have been spent with the aim of creating a protocol involving many local volunteering associations. Through this protocol it has been possible for many asylum seekers hosted in the project to voluntarily spend their time and efforts by participating with these local associations in volunteering activities.

In  Bologna: 

Switching to Bologna a bid has been presented to and accepted by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) on the hospitality of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers arriving in Italy mainly after arrival from sea. The project is carried out by 4 actors from the third sector in collaboration with Cooperativa Camelot and foresees language and professional courses, day and night tutoring (with particular attention to typical aspects of responsibilities with minors, such as post-traumatic experiences and the necessity to guarantee them adequate tools to re-plan their lives) and sanitary screening.

All asylum seekers hosted in territorial projects can remain in such projects for a limited amount of time and benefit from the above mentioned services. Adults can stay for the whole length of their asylum request procedure until a form of protection is given them. Length of stay for minors on the other hand is limited to 90 days, time in which competent bodies should identify the minor and take charge of their stay. Unaccompanied minors are then transferred to specific projects that guaranteed and enable their local integration.

Resources dedicated to the initiative

Financial sources

Overall budget: 5 900 000€

Main financial source: Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Human resources

Around 200 equivalent full time social workers

Around 10 to 15 volunteers

Achievements

Number of refugees reached by the initiative: 360 (7% of refugees present in the region)

The key achievements of the projects are:

  • Good quality of hospitality and integration paths of guests which are verifies by individual monitoring sheets and through public authorities’ checks;
  • Good comprehension of objectives and intervention methods verifies through meetings and above-mentioned checks;
  • Good interaction between institutional actors verified by signed protocols and subsequent periodical checks;
  • Hosted guests are able to easily integrate in local society through actions of social mediation, verified by public initiatives and meetings with the participation of local population;
  • Capacity of implementing good practices verified by the reproducibility of such practices at local and national levels.

Critical success factors

What worked was:

  • The cooperation between public sector and NGO’s ;
  • The kind of hospitality which has been granted to the beneficiaries ;
  • The relations between local inhabitants ;
  • The relations between refugees.

Biggest obstacles

Major obstacles for the realization and implementation of actions have been the following:

  • Absence of guidelines related to hospitality planning at national level, in a quantitative (how many people will arrive and ask for asylum?) and qualitative sense (Who are the arriving population? what will be their needs?) at both national and European levels.
  • Consequent activation of a working methodology based on « emergency » that foresees rapid and effective actions to be undertaken repeatedly on the medium and long term without a concrete planning of actions and activities.
  • Increased level of vulnerability of arriving asylum seekers in both physical and psychological terms given by the worsening general situation of countries of origin (misery, war).
  • Difficulty of public services to take charge of asylum seekers and refugees because of a lack of interest and misinterpretation of the phenomenon in the last years which lead to the absence of sufficient resources.

In order to answer these issues the following steps could be taken:

  1. Provide a policy of evidence-based planning and scientific data that enables Italy to adequately plan hospitality projects on its national territory as well as adopting necessary tools to overcome these needs ;
  2. Pursue and overturn in the methodological approach of humanitarian migratory fluxes based on in-depth studies on reasons why million of people are forced to leave fundamental rights violations contexts, work on one side to stem these violations and on the other to guarantee the respect of fundamental rights declared by the Geneva Convention of 1951 to all those people that arrive in Italy and in Europe ;
  3. Proceed at increasing professional education to all those people working in this field and with these kind of beneficiaries as to have a multidisciplinary approach including social, sanitary, legal, psychological aspects and that keeps in consideration the many different fragilities that might arise after such a journey and during the length of hospitality ;
  4. Inserting professional figures in public bodies that serve as intercultural and multicultural reference and that can support such public services in giving an adequate multicultural service requested, including competencies in migratory laws, ethno psychology, health and migration.

The organisation

Camelot is a social cooperative working with migrants, elderly people, minors and vulnerable citizens in general. Camelot currently employs 200 workers.

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