The role of local communities in the integration process
Preparing local communities for the integration process should include some points:
– learning about migrants, their cultures, countries of origin,
– the reasons for awarding support to those people, to make everyone aware of the needs,
– building positive relationships between Polish society and foreigners.
Local dimension of the phenomenon of receiving foreigners seeking protection and integration seems to be consistently imperceptible from the point of central government view, although the role of local communities and local institutions in this process is very important.
The problem is the lack of support for the implementation of these actions on the side of the central government and the continued lack of preparation of local institutions to carry out these activities. Establishing a center for foreigners in most cases means locating it in a particular community. This means the need to prepare local communities and local institutions to work with foreigners coming from different cultural, religious and linguistic areas. Support should include not only the public sphere, but also other sectors: business and social organizations working within this area.
It is necessary to create a system of support for local communities, local authorities and local institutions.
For the conflict-free operation of the center for foreigners in the local community and effective process of integration the influence has mainly the level of preparation of key institutions to work with foreigners and the level of cooperation between them. Unfortunately, this type of cooperation is neither a system solution nor is supported by the central government. Few governments sometimes supported by NGOs appoint local initiatives to build cooperation platform for the integration of foreigners, to build an open and tolerant society and create local migration policies.
In Poland we have also such positive examples. Integration Model in Gdańsk is the result of cooperation between sectors and the interdisciplinary team that Mayor of Gdansk Pawel Adamowicz founded in May 2015 with the initiative of the Immigrant Support Center in Gdansk. This is the first integration model in Poland developed and adopted by the local authorities. The initiative represents a significant milestone in the process of creating local migration policies. However, without adequate support and commitment of the central government, creating systemic framework for the creation and implementation of such solutions and providing funds to create a model and its implementation, Gdansk initiative can remain one of the few glorious examples of self-organization and empowerment of local communities in this area.
We hope that we would be able to boast about this initiative and replicate such idea in other European countries.
Author: Rafał Baczyński-Sielaczek, specialist in the field of migration, social and vocational activation of foreigners