“Cities are the places where integration happens. They offer great opportunities for migrants and non-migrants to interact, be it through working, studying and raising their families, but they are also faced with challenges regarding integration and inclusion.”
European Urban Agenda
MUST-a-Lab proposes a systemic and long-term involvement of migrants and asylum-seekers in cities and communities through installing Policy Labs (PLs) in which existing local integration strategies are discussed and improved.
These labs bring together different types of local stakeholders: official stakeholders normally involved in local policies and “grassroots” stakeholders who are close to the final implementation of policies, as well as established migrant stakeholders and “influencers” in the migrant community.
Each PL will concentrate on a specific topic in one of two areas the consortium selected from the European “Action plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027” and identified as a priority (1. Education, lifelong learning, citizenship education, and professionalisation, 2. Care, ork-life balance and gender equality).
The topics are chosen according to the local needs, subject of a continuous brainstorming with the partner cities since this very projecting phase.
The PLs will have a long-term impact on local integrations strategies in four ways.
Firstly, migrants and asylum seekers will become active actors in local integration strategies, who are able to influence the implementation of those strategies by sharing their views and experiences with relevant stakeholders.
Secondly, local stakeholders become collaborative actors who have the necessary information to implement strategies that work.
Thirdly, the PLs will enable stakeholders to develop actions that are complementary to those of other stakeholders.
Fourth, the practice of the PLs allows communities to optimise all existing and new integration strategies.
The method of the PLs will be broadly communicated, so that other municipalities and communities can install them to improve their integration strategies involving all relevant stakeholders.
Establish sustainable framework at local level
The network of PLs established in the partner cities will represent an experimental, but potentially sustainable framework to continue a participatory process of strategy review, renewal and maintenance involving local administrators, relevant stakeholder’s groups and migrants/asylum seekers having developed mutual familiarity and cooperation habit.
In the short term, all the city partners will elaborate and acquire a Local Stakeholders Reference Group, and a structured PL experience to be replicated in the future, leading towards a long term impact.
Generate replicable good practices and a methodology
The whole process of stakeholders’ mapping, enabling of grassroots stakeholders, dialogic methods, systemic approach to the analysis of policy challenges and evaluation will lead to its replication/adaptation in other local contexts, neighbours of the partner cities or linked through international networks.
Improved transnational cooperation
Not only local administrators will have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with their peers in other countries, but also the stakeholders’ representatives.
In the short term, the network of cities, supported by the trained PL Facilitators, will establish a fruitful exchange of practices across the different sectoral areas and maintain the collaboration beyond the end of the project, leading to a long term impact.
In this respect, the network of partner cities will extend to at least 12 others and establish collaborative tools and practices, including participation in Europe-wide networks.
Improved socio-economic inclusion
The interaction of administrators, migrants and grassroots stakeholders will establish new flows of dialogue and more comprehensive results through co-creation of innovative and cross-sectoral solutions.
In the short term, this will lead to e.g. more mothers in employment or training by cooperation between childcare, better job orientation, entrepreneurs engagement, mother – buddy in school, youth work, job training.
In the long term, cities expect e.g. less drop-outs in education, integration of children in jobs after school, new ways to attract young migrants in sport activities overtaking cultural obstacles.
Increased exchange of experiences/information/best practices
PLs will build on the mobilisation of local stakeholders, departments and services of the public administration at the different institutional levels – according to their respective competences-, civil society organisations and citizens groups.
Concrete integration projects/measures implemented at a local local
Each PLs will elaborate proposals for renewed integration strategies and experimental projects.
In the short term, each partner city will adopt elements proposed by the PLs in its integration strategy, and giving rise to one or more specific projects.
In the long term, each partner city will have progressed in the level of cross-sector integration strategies, thus producing more innovative and effective measures.