The online workshop series, that took place on June 2023 and was organised by HumanRightsR360 within the WP4 of the AMIF funded PISTE Project, constituted a highly impactful event, not only for the purposes of HR360 within the PISTE activities but also for the participants. To enhance a comprehensive and participatory approach, the program includes three co-designed workshops,
involving representatives from immigrant populations, associations, and unaffiliated individuals. The findings from these workshops will be used to create a White Paper on immigrants’ participation and welcoming communities in European small and medium-sized towns.
The workshop series brought together members of the Civil Society Organisations, integration and policy stakeholders, and key actors from public agencies to discuss the inclusion and participation of migrants and refugees, particularly unaccompanied minors (UAMs), in small or medium-sized cities.
The workshops aimed to identify challenges, explore potential solutions, and highlight existing good practices that could be replicated to improve the integration process for UAMs. Among the participants was also the Director of UAM’s shelter in Voio Municipality, where the programme runs. The participants were divided into two groups and worked on specific thematic areas, emerging from the discussion as the most crucial focus areas for promoting integration and participation in SMS towns: What actions should be taken to tackle the limited capacity of small Municipalities to undertake fundraising activities aiming to UAMs integration? What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a small city where integration opportunities are scarce for UAMs? Which is
the provision of applying an effective guardianship system in the near future? What actions should be taken to enhance an inclusive formal education? Which are the preparatory actions and provisions for the smooth transition of minors to adulthood? What are the actions local authorities of small and medium sized towns should take to create or enhance the integration procedure of unaccompanied minors?
The findings were remarkably interesting. Inter alia, the participants highlighted the pivotal role of Municipalities’ social services in the integration process of UAMs and their smooth transition to adulthood. The working group emphasised the need for clear and transparent planning of each child’s integration journey, starting from their registration. They also stressed the importance of competent
and accessible social services that can provide guidance and psychological support both at the local level and within shelters. Another significant observation was that small and medium-sized towns often lack formal organised migrant communities or associations that can contribute to the integration
of UAMs. Participants recognised the necessity of developing transnational, intercultural, and interfaith networks that represent each community, advocate for their best interests, and actively participate in the integration process. Furthermore, recommendations were made for extending rights to migrants such as granting them the right to vote at the local level, to further promote their
integration and involvement in decision-making processes.
Overall, participants were very satisfied with the context and their participation in the workshop as they were able to provide valuable insights, fostering collaboration and dialogue among stakeholders to create more inclusive and supportive environments for unaccompanied minors in small and medium-sized cities.