Fundão: an embrancing land
The project in brief
The project is implemented by The Municipality of Fundão in Portugal. It began in January 2022 and is currently ongoing.
The Municipality of Fundão, through Fundão Migrations Centre, has been developing a visionary and exemplary work in the area of migrations. It has been providing an effective response to enhance refugee self-reliance, creating for this purpose several pioneering policy lines at national level, which respond to issues such as inclusion, integration and social mobility, which are seen as institutional and social innovation ways for the territorial and social cohesion promotion, as well as the fight against ageing and the progressive depopulation of territories with low population and industrial density. It also addresses several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): SDG 10 - Reduction of Inequalities; SDG11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG16 - Peace and Justice. Since April 2016, the Fundão Migrations Centre has already welcomed 253 asylum seeker /refugees, provides facilities for about 50 seasonal workers per year and, in partnership with Fundão Professional School, hosts about 100 students from PALOP countries.
The project works on three strategic axes that include different areas of intervention:
- Welcoming - to ensure a close network and proximity with (and between) the displaced community in order to better understand their realities and provide tailored responses in the territory, upon their arrival but also during the initial stages.
- Integration – to empower the displaced population so they can take advantage of their potential and benefit from their rights and duties.
- Community Life – to integrate displaced communities through cultural offerings and initiatives that promote cultural diversity; support cultural initiatives created and promoted by migrant communities; support the dissemination of events; enhance the practice of active citizenship, through the creation of migrant associations and the dissemination of information and active citizenship events.
To conduct the activities planned within the scope of the migrant’s integration policy, the Municipality of Fundão has an estimated budget of 3.000.000€, of which it already executed around 1.200.000€. All the activities are funded by community funds coming from different projects under execution, within the scope of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) - High Commissariat for Migrations. Besides this, the Municipality of Fundão also prioritizes these actions when discussing the annual budget for the municipality. In addition, it also has a proactive attitude in the search for funding opportunities, with a wide range of programmes and funding under the Community Support Framework 2021 – 2027.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The Municipality of Fundão, through the Fundão Migrations Centre, implemented a pioneering project in Portugal, by developing a holistic, innovative, and multidimensional approach, which ensures the inclusion of displaced people in the community, allowing them to develop their human capital. The methodology, with 3 areas of intervention (Welcoming, Integration and Community Life) allows progress in 5 strategic municipal needs:
- Housing (reuse and reconstruction of old buildings; decent and affordable houses);
- Training (training, guaranteeing safe and stable work and reinforcing the labour supply);
- Empowerment (individualised monitoring to enhance total autonomy);
- Portuguese Language (learning the language aiming to social and labour integration);
- Transport network (facilitating the journey from home to work).
We work towards full integration through partnerships and local networks that promote and support social, labour, cultural and affective relations, between those who arrive and those who welcome.
In order to undertake the referred migrants integration strategy, is fundamental the collaboration of several municipal services and plans/projects in an economic (Fundão's Innovation Ecosystem; Project for Attraction and Integration of TCNs; Fundão ACOLHE - Empowerment Centre for TCNs) and social (CLAIM - Local Support Centre for Migrant Integration; Social Action; Professional Insertion Office; MIXin2 - Fundão's Municipal Plan for Migrations; Fundão Strategic Plan for Cohesion and Integration; Fundão MEDEIA; Fundão's Centre for Migrations) dimension.
We also work with organisations external to the Municipality, namely the High Commissariat for Migrations, Foreigners and Borders Service, Institute of Employment and Professional Training, Fundão’s Journal, companies, among others.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
The main challenges that the Municipality of Fundão and, in a more direct way the Fundão Migrations Centre overcomes daily, are related with cultural differences, such as language, traditions, cuisine, religion, customs, the model of family organisation, among others.
How they were overcome
Several activities and initiatives were already implemented to overcome these difficulties, namely: 14 Portuguese as host language courses were conducted, as well as personal finances classes; a room without use was transformed into a mosque by the Muslim community; and several events to interact with the local community were organized (The Neighbours Day, the Diwali Lights Festival, Multicultural Picnic Brunch, among others).
As far for the professional integration, within the scope of the Fundão ACOLHE - Empowerment Centre for TCNs project, several training programmes in the agro-forestry sector are conducted, which in some cases already led to the professional integrations of migrants in local companies.
The Municipality of Fundão is strongly committed and has been the driving force behind the different projects currently underway, in a synergy between all its divisions and areas (innovation and development, culture and education, urbanism, sports and youth, tourism and communication) and in partnership with all the public and private entities that have shown willingness to actively join in.
Results of the Good Practice
As of today, we estimate that the number of people impacted positively by this methodology is 853 (253 refugees, 300 students and 300 foreign).
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
Since April 2016, the Fundão Migrations Centre has already welcomed 253 asylum seeker/refugees, provides facilities for about 50 seasonal workers per year and, in partnership with Fundão
Professional School, hosts about 100 students from PALOP countries.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
We provide adequate facilities for around 50 seasonal workers per year, and we are developing partnerships with various entities from other municipalities to ensure greater stability for these workers and their families. In partnership with Fundão Professional School, we host around 100 students from Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe. At the same time, through its Business and Services Centre, the municipality already welcomes around 1000 highly qualified foreign citizens of 32 different nationalities. In the next decade, we estimate that we will need more than 8 thousand workers in the technological areas and in the traditional areas.
We have no doubts as to the need to continue with the adopted development model, with a renewed focus on attracting and settling people and on developing sustainable, integrated, and participative solutions capable of responding to the new social challenges. Our ambition is to attract, retain and integrate around 8,000 migrants in the next ten years, whether in traditional or technological areas. Our ambition is to become a multicultural region and to ensure that good examples are disseminated to neighbouring regions.