Institutions and organisations providing services to immigrants are not always aware of all the vulnerability factors that shape the needs of their clients. Integration strategies and daily work are also conditioned by scarce financial and human resources, and tend to seek one-size-fits-all solutions. Therefore, a careful evaluation of possible strategies for the attention, reception, and settlement of vulnerable migrants is necessary. Efforts to adapt these strategies to specific contexts should, however, be based on up-to-date research results and a screening of existing or previously implemented good practices.
RAISD’s novel approach to the topic aims at developing Tailored Attention and Inclusion Strategies (TAIS) which define effective practices (i.e. highly scored by stakeholder criteria) for a given vulnerability context (as defined by field research). The correspondence between vulnerability contexts, implemented practices and criteria for their evaluation is ensured by a constant coordination of several consortium members. In three pilot rounds (between April 2020 and October 2021), TAIS are being designed, implemented and evaluated in seven participating countries to respond to the specific needs of one of the vulnerable groups (VGs) detected after carrying out interviews with vulnerable individuals and working with stakeholders in the framework of the Action Research Units (ARU).
The TAIS relies on evidence gathered through interviews with Forcibly Displaced People (FDPs), stakeholder interviews, ARU meetings, analysis of previous good practices, and desktop research.
National teams (Finland, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Spain, Turkey) including consortium member partners and stakeholders (organizations, specialists, activists, civil society, etc.) of the ARU develop the TAIS as pilot activities. Social innovation is a key concept for setting the outlines of stakeholder involvement.
The TAIS is designed in each country by the respective RAISD consortium member institution. Their work is coordinated by three project members. Methodology issues are supervised by the project’s lead partner, the Complutense University of Madrid. The implementation is coordinated by Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants. The evaluation is carried out by the University of Helsinki.
In the following, the TAIS of each participant country and institution is presented.
In Spain, the TAIS consists of a training and counselling program for forcibly displaced Sub-Saharan women, providing them with the necessary skills for starting their own business, either individually or collectively.
Refuge of power: Sub-Saharan women’s entrepreneurship and coaching program
As a result of the fieldwork and the discussion in the ARU, one of the vulnerable groups that was identified was Sub-Saharan women because of the special difficulties for inclusion during transit and destination areas: violence, racism, gender discrimination, language, and greater migratory mourning. To these vulnerabilities, being single mothers or family charges can be added. On the other hand, all interviewers during the fieldwork highlighted the difficulty of finding a decent and stable job in Spain.
According to RAISD main hypothesis and the work in UCM ARU, it is necessary to tailor the attention and inclusion strategies, adapting them to the particular needs of the vulnerable group. Furthermore, attention strategies should be focused on empowering the social group, on promoting their autonomy.
According to RAISD methodology, this TAIS has been designed by means of the participation of ARU members and final beneficiaries. As a result of this procedure, the TAIS at UCM consists of a training and counselling program for self-employment for Sub-Saharan women seeking international protection, whose application has been accepted, rejected or is pending. The responsible for this TAIS is the UCM team, together with the stakeholders of the ARU (organisations, specialists, activists, civil society, etc.) including UNHCR, Red Cross Spain, and the Municipality of Madrid.
The expected results of this TAIS is that final beneficiaries have the necessary skills to be able to start their own business, either individually or collectively. Given the capacity of the project, we hope to be able to advise, together with the rest of the ARU, at least one cooperative project. Other positive results associated with this activity are the development of empowerment strategies -as active participants in the learning and exchange process-, social integration, labour insertion and accompaniment dynamics with other women, even more necessary in the current isolation situation and the health and social crisis.
The TAIS may have as a secondary outcome a change in the narratives of the migrants themselves, knowing that there are different possibilities, in the volunteers and in the university and in society in general, as this TAIS and its results are disseminated.
The Italian TAIS focuses on forcibly displaced women, and it aims at providing them with online learning tools. The central idea behind the TAIS is to personalise online learning through “Digitalised Personal Pathways” (DPP), based on which FDPs can have control over their own learning process.
Digitalised Personal Pathways Strategy
In Italy, the TAIS seeks for Change Management in Education Delivery Approaches introducing a more bottom-up and participatory practice to education, shifting from an “induced” training offer approach (i.e. a dominating and top-down way to organize education for FDPs and leave them either accepting or rejecting the contents of education) to a “selective” approach in developing a platform or application in which several optional modules are offered and participants can choose contents that are attractive for them.
The ultimate aim is to increase beneficiaries’ decision-making capacity (Forcibly Displaced Women living and/or exposed to highly vulnerable situations and conditions) and to have direct influence over their learning path’s contents and modalities according to a set of individual variables (interests and aspirations, level of studies and previously attended programmes, logistics and time availability, etc.) by using the DASI Tool (Digitalised Admix Selection Interface) infrastructure.
The implementation steps of the “Digitalised Personal Pathways” Strategy are the following. In Phase 1, the design and setup of the DASI Tool (Digitalised Admix Selection Interface) is carried out. Participants and users can choose the courses they would like to attend, selecting among different areas or fields of knowledge, with the possibility of intersecting categories. Information and data gathering upon DASI registration will serve a trainers’ hub to best organise sessions matching the individual learner profile, modalities and needs. Then, in Phase 2, participants and users are guided in the understanding of content and learning outcomes to be achieved, on how to select options that respond to their needs and draft their learning action-plan developed according to the individual needs. Finally, in Phase 3, a face-to-face training is provided, including the training modules as selected by highly vulnerable participants.
The DPP approach will allow the local Competence Cell (ARU) to collect data and follow up on learners’ profiling and mapping, ultimately assessing if through participants’ individually tailored learning path or experiences it is possible to increase highly vulnerable groups’ participation as well as satisfaction and decrease early dropouts while in training. Moreover, the Competence Cell will be able to provide information to Stakeholders and inclusion actors on what are the most and least selected training contents, learning outcomes and delivery modes selected by participants so as to better align with real needs of highly vulnerable groups when designing future “Learning and Training Environment” programmes.
Expected results include the increased highly vulnerable and forcibly displaced female participation in Education and Training; the decreased initial resistance and attendance reluctance; and the reduced in-training dropout rates among FDP women. In order to achieve these goals, the excessive strictness of learning paths and hours of commitment are avoided and replaced by a flexible learning environment. It is expected that enhanced capitalisation of stakeholders’ resources, info and data (learners’ profiling and mapping) would better align with highly vulnerable groups’ real needs.
In Finland, the TAIS is designed in the form of two parallel pilot activities that target asylum seekers who are in a vulnerable situation. One target group is young men with no social connections, who will receive online peer support. The other target group is single parents with small children, who will be provided with new forms of childcare services in reception centres.
(i) Multilingual online groups for young men
Young asylum-seeking men are rarely considered as suffering from vulnerabilities even though they constitute a highly discriminated group in Finland and few services are targeted for them. Many men lack the opportunities to use and learn everyday language with Finnish-speaking peers while most of the contacts they have with Finnish-speakers are reception centre professionals and elderly women since they tend to volunteer through NGOs. Particularly in smaller towns and rural areas there are few possibilities in contacting Finnish-speaking peers. Moreover, according to several asylum seeker interviews, the language tuition within the reception centres is not enough, is restricted to classrooms and is too repetitive due to constantly changing teachers and learners and the huge diversity of educational backgrounds different asylum seekers have.
To respond to some of these problems, a voluntary group of young asylum-seeking men are invited to join, together with Finnish-speaking voluntary young men, in an online thread to discuss the experiences of asylum seekers and everyday life in the Finnish society. The aim is to promote the learning of both asylum seekers and voluntaries. The former group will learn the language, Finnish culture from the perspective of ordinary men and may find more information about the educational and employment possibilities in the Finnish society. As for the latter group, voluntary men are able to have a first-hand knowledge about the lives of asylum seekers in Finland and about their home countries. Further, both groups will develop their skills in online communications. In a best scenario, the online group will function as a platform for more enduring contacts or even friendships.
The online discussions will be moderated and, when necessary, translated from languages used by asylum seekers into Finnish. Consequently, in addition to asylum seeking and voluntary men, the discussions will be observed by researchers able to help and use four different languages: Finnish, English, Arabic and Farsi/Dari. Each pilot cycle will last approximately five weeks.
(ii) Developing child-care services in reception centres
Finnish society provides quite all-encompassing services for families with small children. However, this applies only to families with a residence permit. In most Finnish regions, asylum-seeking families do not have the right to early childhood education in municipal day-care centres. Asylum seeking children are entitled to enter the Finnish education system in pre-school at the age of six. Moreover, the level of child-care services provided varies significantly between different reception centres. Some centres do not organize childcare services at all while, at best, some centres provide help in childcare for a few hours per week. For many families and particularly to single parents, this type of context tends to cause problems or aggravate already existing ones. Children miss structured activities with their peers and their learning and integration to Finnish society are often severely hampered. As for parents, they have difficulties in using the services they are entitled to and their abilities to work or educate themselves and rest are highly limited. Consequently, lack of childcare services has several repercussions on both parental and child wellbeing.
In the RAISD project, two reception centres providing comparatively wide-ranging child-care services for small children will be observed and the parents and professionals involved will be interviewed. The knowledge acquired will be used to further improve the childcare activities throughout the developmental cycles. Each cycle will last approximately five weeks. During the cycles, the services of the two reception centres will be compared and most successful practices in one place will be adjusted to the field of the other centre. As a result of the developmental cycles, a model for child-care services for reception centres will be established to be used for all reception centres throughout Finland.
In Hungary, the objective of the TAIS is to enhance refugees’ embeddedness in social structures. Social workers and service providers analyse individual cases in order to build a “Trajectory monitoring toolbox” of helpful and tailored interventions for vulnerable refugees.
Trajectory monitoring toolbox
The central piece of the Hungarian TAIS is a “toolbox” for social workers and stakeholders, that contains evidence-based “vulnerability profiles” as well as the description of the trajectories that these typical cases should follow in the institutional field, in order to prevent the accumulation of vulnerabilities and to reduce the isolation of vulnerable individuals.
The toolbox has the primary objective to recognize and assess a context of vulnerability. Also, institutions and organizations that work with refugees can use it in order to improve their internal workflow, as well as inter-institutional cooperation, to make trajectories less demanding, and vulnerability reduction more effective.
The TAIS idea is linked to a hypothesis, according to which the weakness of refugee integration institutions in Hungary, and the sporadic inter-institutional coordination in the social sphere have a negative effect on the vulnerability of the forcibly displaced: many times the root of the problem is that a client with complex vulnerabilities could not receive support at the right place, in the right time. Many people fall out of the scope of supportive services, because complex problems cannot be tackled by one service provider alone.
The interview analysis showed that “coping mechanisms” are related to a “supporting environment” of the individual, which in turn can be divided in two fields: organic and institutional. Those who can rely on an organic supporting environment overcome the traumas and integration difficulties easier than those who cannot. For the latter group, it is necessary to develop an institutional environment where actors engage in a non-formal, dynamic cooperation based on the organic structures of the host society, in order to improve the resilience of vulnerable individuals and groups. This is what the Hungarian TAIS would like to achieve.
The network’s central agent is Menedék – the mission of the organization makes it a central actor in a possible network. ARU members representing other institutions or organizations can assess whether they can provide specific services. The beneficiaries are clients (vulnerable individuals) of these institutions or organizations, and social workers or service providers working with them. The emphasis placed on social workers is due to the fact that many times experienced social workers have a good understanding of procedures in the institutional landscape, but there is a high fluctuation in the field, and if a knowledgeable social worker leaves an organization or institution, their knowledge is lost. It is therefore crucial to make these informal connections transferrable through trajectory descriptions that contain the analysis of typical cases, a “vulnerability checklist” for clients and the intervention maps for vulnerability profiles.
In the first phase of the TAIS implementation, the focus of the activities is on the collection of existing vulnerability profiles and experiences of social workers and service providers, which are enhanced by the comments and insights of other professionals, and – when possible – by FDPs themselves. Based on the trajectories in real-life situations, the second phase aims at enhancing organizational capacities through trainings and by incorporating existing knowledge in the daily operation of the given organizations. Based on case analyses and stakeholder inputs, the toolbox will be finalized in the third phase, and channels of inter-institutional cooperation and information sharing will be built, based on the publication of a dynamic and easy-to-use guideline of trajectories to follow in the institutional landscape for different vulnerability profiles.
The TAIS in Turkey focuses on the monitoring of the social integration of vulnerable forcibly displaced people. A series of workshops creates capacities and awareness for various stakeholders.
Monitoring for Attention and Inclusion
Monitoring is an influential tool and method for creating awareness and engagement for the rights of vulnerable populations; such as forcibly displaced people, refugees, asylum seekers and others. Monitoring can be seen as an advocacy work. In that sense, monitoring can consist of a set of organised activities designed to influence the policies and actions of others to achieve positive changes for vulnerable groups’ lives based on the experience and knowledge of working directly with various stakeholders from the society, including the vulnerable populations themselves. Through active and systematic participation of different dimensions of the society, monitoring does not only work for ‘better’ in terms of rights of those individuals, but also serve as a tool for attention and inclusion in the society.
The aim of the TAIS in Turkey is to create capacities, awareness and understanding for various stakeholders in terms of inclusion and diversity – overall for integration – for forcibly displaced people. Through the workshops on understanding the concepts of diversity and inclusion, and the way monitoring functions, vulnerable populations-forcibly displaced people are the main beneficiaries while society in general through various stakeholders is the beneficiary for a better integrated society.
During the implementation of the TAIS, various intervals will take place. The first two intervals are about understanding the concepts of inclusion and diversity from the perspectives of various stakeholders from the society and the representatives of forcibly displaced people; these steps will include workshops. Afterwards, the monitoring approach will be built.
There are three levels of expected results. First, to develop an understanding on diversity and inclusion concepts for all participating sides. Second, to understand the role of monitoring and use it as a tool for advocacy. Third, to put monitoring into action and utilize it in a systematic way.
The TAIS in Jordan aims at providing psychosocial support for refugees, together with online trainings about financial, legal and health awareness on a special online portal that help forcibly displaced people to participate in an interactive exchange of knowledge.
Psychosocial Refugee Support Forum
The Psychosocial Refugee Support Forum (PRSF) aims to provide a structure that contributes to the well-being of individuals and prevents the need for medical support through non-clinical interventions. It will be breaking barriers and creating connections. It aims to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of psychosocial support (PSS) and to share knowledge on approaches, research, practice, and policy that impact on the provision of support to vulnerable forcibly displaced people.
The assumption behind the Jordanian TAIS is that vulnerable young refugee men and women are rarely able to cope with difficult experiences, even with a supportive family and community environment. Especially in the rural areas of northern Jordan, there is little potential to support them. According to many refugee interviews, the support provided in reception centres or by NGOs is neither sufficient nor efficient, due to the constant change of trainers and the diversity of educational backgrounds of the refugees. On the other hand, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on psychosocial well-being of vulnerable refugees in Jordan. Negative factors include exposure to violence, stress accumulation, loss of family members or separation from family members, deteriorating living conditions, inability to support oneself and family, increased militarization and divisions in communities, and lack of access to services. These can all have immediate consequences for displaced persons, as well as long-term consequences for the displaced.
The TAIS in Jordan aims at implementing psychosocial support through economic empowerment and promoting financial knowledge. Health awareness, legal awareness and psychological well-being are also key elements in the support mechanism. This Psychosocial Refugee Support Forum (PRSF) covers distinct modules and combines interactive training methods, in-house seminars, e-learning and field activities or short-term internships. This approach of training at Yarmouk University and different NGOs will become increasingly better received by the trainers and refugees alike. Meanwhile, a pool of lecturers will be trained in interactive in-class teaching methods and e-learning, i.e. blended learning. Feedback sessions and training evaluations are used to increasingly fine-tune the contents and set-up of the training material in order to even better equip (potential future) psychosocial support service providers.
Furthermore, a Refugee Support System (RSS) portal will be set up for psychosocial support activities. Technical features of the portal include support for online communications (e.g. live chat), online PSS service, information about PSS providers, and provision of free-of-charge PSS service. Services will include a pre-evaluation, and they will ensure security and data confidentiality.
Services of the PRSF will mostly be provided by RAISD project researchers, Refugees, Displaced Persons, staff of the Forced Migration Studies Centre, and NGO professionals. Online forum participants will be displaced persons living in Jordan. In the later stages of the pilot training, service delivery will be developed in cooperation with professionals, researchers and refugees. The most important contribution of the RAISD researchers will be to act as a link between service providers (specialists at the reception centre) and end users (refugees).
The TAIS implementation will be held through three rounds. The first round includes the preparation of the PSS training material and methodology, together with the methodology of its evaluation. Video presentations will be prepared about the trainings’ subject (health awareness, legal awareness etc.). Also, the first version of the RSS will be designed and implemented. In the second round, team members will work with ARUs: they will hold PSS workshops, evaluate PSS material and methodology, test and validate the RSS. In the third round, based on the evaluation results of the previous rounds, team and ARU members will modify and reimplement RSS material, hold further PSS workshops, re-evaluate PSS material and methodology, and test and validate the RSS.
The TAIS in Lebanon promotes health awareness among Syrian refugees living in camps. The coronavirus emergency makes it necessary to combine simple awareness raising activities with a more strategic approach via trainings focusing on social and emotional wellbeing.
Health for Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (Health 4 SEAD)
The Lebanese TAIS has been shaped by the necessities emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, most importantly among Syrian refugees living in Lebanon. The TAIS aims to provide a series of trainings and instruction about health awareness, but also to explore how participation in health awareness work affects vulnerable people’s motivation and identity, and what is the right role for trainers to raise this awareness. It looks for explanations about how vulnerable respond to an online awareness campaign to health issues, and how trainings can use a mix of media and technology in order to fit vulnerable people’s needs.
With the inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders, the health committee of the Lebanese International University (LIUHealth) will promote strategies on COVID-19 awareness campaign among forcibly displaced people. Parallel to the campaign, LIU will deliver an adapted Teaching Diploma (TD) program, called SEAD “Social Emotional, and Academic Development”. It will focus on Syrian instructors working in refugee camps, preparing them to facilitate and support their students based on the principles of active participation.
The digital promotion topics will be broadcasted through a YouTube channel. Also, a questions and answers forum will be developed on LIUHealth’s website. The objective of these activities is to orientate displaced people (many of them with Post-Trauma Stress Disorder) facing the coronavirus emergency, as well as supporting children, pregnant women, elderly people, malnourished people, and people who are ill or immunocompromised. It is expected that having a correct use of medical treatment for elderly people, pregnant women and children, as well as improving sanitation awareness systems and health facilities would be very beneficial in the current situation.
In the first phase of implementation, the design and setup of the TAIS will begin, exploring the different areas or fields of knowledge that might be of interest for forcibly displaced people. Video tutorials will be created in the relevant topics. In the second phase, coaching sessions will help to define individual goals of vulnerable individuals with the support of a mentor. Beneficiaries will participate in trainings and get familiar with the TAIS structure. In the third phase, trainings will continue with the modules selected by the beneficiaries, and the training outcomes will be evaluated. All these activities will be carried out in the form of online or blended learning.
It is expected that the TAIS will lead to the empowerment of displaced people living in refugee camps, with a special focus on students. The TAIS will also help them in improving their learning skills and emotional well-being.