Refugee outreach

Practice Aim

To offer individual casework and social counselling in Budapest focusing on the individual needs and problems of refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection (i.e. general support in communication between refugees and authorities, employers, flat owners and utility companies in order to prevent or manage intercultural or language conflicts, as well as legal counselling to refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection).

Target Groups

Refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection arriving in Hungary

Identification of stakeholders that made an identification of the practice

András Kováts, Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants

Criteria actors or stakeholder are using to assess them as a “good practice”

Intercultural mediation and creating linkages towards isolated individuals or small groups

Name and leading organization (contact details provided)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Target VG and type of host community

Isolated individuals, mostly in Budapest

Application setting

The project, supported by UNHCR and implemented by Menedék, aims to provide services that expand the opportunities of refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection arriving in Hungary. Also, it aims to ensure a higher level of protection for children and to identify vulnerable persons and to secure access to local integration for those in need of international protection.


Individual casework and social counselling in Budapest focusing on the individual needs and problems of refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection (i.e. general support in communication between refugees and authorities, employers, flat owners and utility companies in order to prevent or manage intercultural or language conflicts, as well as legal counselling to refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection).


Continuous (ongoing for 2+ years)

Requirements/ accessibility issues

None, all activities are open, the social workers are already working at Menedék

Performance procedures

Several counselling sessions (individual and group)




For more information see

1. Relevance of the development of initiative in its specific context (analysis of the need for such an initiative in its specific context, support from the leading institution to such initiative, partnerships, target groups: please list and describe the target population, support of local / national / international , financing…)
The project was led by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) with a 6 month pilot program. While all organizations in the area were conducting outreach activities, they were not being done in a strategic way. In Menedék’s case, people were coming into the office and trying to schedule appointments when it was too late, after their problems became worse. The flow of information was poor; people were being misled by rumors or wishful thinking. This initiative was important for filling in gaps in communication by reaching out to people first so that the perspective of potential clients was better understood. There was an overall lack of awareness and information being provided to potential clients. The leading institution was UNHCR, and they financed an outreach coordinator during the 6 months that the pilot project was occurring. UNHCR also funded community events and programs. Some of the partnerships that Menedék had for this initiative was with a local outreach working group. Specific partners besides UNHCR and Menedék were JRS and MigHelp. The target population was different for each organization, as they were all pilot programs. Menedék targeted a new population: vulnerable third-country national students. UNHCR didn’t directly support Menedék but paid the living allowance of the refugee outreach coordinators. There was some general support from local university coordinators, or international coordinators working in foreign offices of the universities.
2. Visibility of the action (What are the means of communication used? Are they effective? If so, why and how are communication objectives achieved? What are the objectives? If not, explain!)
The means of communication used were an outreach coordinator (based on UNHCR’s concept), email lists and social media. Participants that represented groups of students were able to use their personal networks, and it created a snowball effect to reach more youth and involve them into programs. Email lists were effective with students, but it could still use more work as the students consider it “old school.” Social media was not effective when creating connections, but it was effective to maintain them. A Facebook group was created to keep youth up to date on activities and communicate in general. Menedék was able to reach the target group, but a higher rate was expected. Lessons have been learned, however. In the future, the same channels would be utilized but now it is known where the errors were so they won’t be repeated. Individuals’ personal position in the community and communication capacity will be of key importance. If social media is going to be used, there must be a person willing and capable to go through their own personal network and profile.
3. Transferability (How can the model be implemented by other institutions / other countries?)
As of right now, there is no exact model. The result of the outreach project confirmed that there is a group of people that must be looked at from some specific angles. It is important to understand their situation from all aspects. Even though there is no model, the lesson can still be learned and applied elsewhere. There is a growing student population in Eastern and Central Europe so it is a trend everywhere. People should not judge or identify vulnerability solely based on the legal status of another–it is imperative to look deeper into other conditions. When looking at how the refugee care system is financed, it is very much focused on legal status. The first criteria is whether the person is a refugee or asylum seeker, which is not a thorough check. In some cases, students may be more vulnerable than refugees. Unfortunately, students are ignored by the system because they have a legal status, but many people do not consider the fact that they may have also just escaped an abusive household or even a war zone.
4. Sustainability (If the initiative or initial project has already been finalized, how is continuity ensured beyond the initial life of the project? If the initiative or project is still ongoing, what will be the developments in the coming years? what are the mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of the initiative beyond its expected life)
In the coming years, the basic initiative of the UNHCR to have systematic outreach will hopefully happen with not just one specific target group, but numerous different ones. Menedék is now in the planning stages to find strategic outreach methods. The other stage is the specification of target groups, as different groups require different strategies. The methods of reaching the youth will continue as is but with different people and social media profiles. To ensure sustainability, it is important that after building a strong base, a group of people who understand Menedék and are motivated to engage, the initiative should start working by itself after providing links, information, and activities. The group should grow simply through word of mouth and an overall snowball effect, as positive experiences will encourage more people to join. The organization is also exploring new methods of communication, like more old-fashioned methods, to see if there is a possibility of faster growth.
5. Innovative character (Describe briefly the factors favoring the success of the initiative and the innovations introduced by the initiative)
The success of the pilot program is evident because there are a number of new types of people that are now engaging with Menedék. Before this initiative, people would have to find Menedék on their own and come to the office to schedule appointments. Now, this has changed and the organization meets potential clients outside of the office through organized activities such as hiking or football. From here, the social workers can start to monitor problems and questions, and if there are any potential issues the people are invited to the office. This new model is working well, but it could still be more effective and better applied. Overall, this project shows the importance of the initiative and new way of thinking. An innovation introduced by this initiative was the inclusion of student third country nationals in vulnerable situations. This was made possible through the communication efforts of Menedék with the UNHCR. Menedék was able to convince them that, from a donor standpoint, they should support the work being done with this group. They may not be refugees in the legal sense but the refugee background exists for vulnerable student TCNs.
6. Impact (How the initiative changed or produced an impact on the targeted beneficiaries, in its context and beyond – lessons learnt)
This initiative impacted the targeted beneficiaries very positively. Those who were engaging really enjoyed the youth club. Little elements of integration such as offering a release from stress and sharing information helped contribute to the impact. Also, by engaging on such a personal level, 10 people were identified and provided with personal care and social work services. This helped prevent a risk of suicide and homelessness, while also giving personal mentoring along with language lessons.
7. Ease of implementation(Optional field. Please specify how easy (or not) was to implement the initiative. Please identify the factors that contributed to the smooth implementation and/or the difficulties encountered)
8. Tools and resources for implementation(Optional field. If possible, please specify, enumerate and describe the human, material and financial resources allocated to the implementation of the initiative)
9. Other/additional information (Optional field. Please share any other relevant information regarding this initiative)