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Social integration (Part 1)

Video explaining the importance of social integration in Sicily.
We try with our association to give vocation to the minors to integrate themselves. And one of the biggest and important things for them is learning a job. So we try to give them opportunities to start with internship. We had this very, very good experience of an internship in a patisserie where we put a guy called Adam. He did a really good job, and the owner of the patisserie was very happy with this guy. And after, when the guy ended the internship, he made him a contract, and then he asked us for another one. So we chose this friend of his, Amadou. And now it’s Adam who teaches the other guy the job.
So it was for us, also, a very big joy. All the people who work here are good people, honestly. They’re always nice to me. We joke, we have fun, we work together. Each time I step in here, I feel happy. Yes, Amadou has always been my friend. He’s like my brother. I met him a long time ago.
We came to Italy together.
In the beginning, it went well because he was already working here. Otherwise it wouldn’t have gone well. He was already here so it went well. I started working with him. On my very first day, they told me, “He is your boss here. He’s going to teach you everything he can do.” He introduced me to many people. So far, so good. Now I joke with everyone, I speak with everyone. “Now he’s my student!” We met in the middle of the sea! While we were coming here. On the boat. He was sick. I think that when two people become friends in a difficult situation, they continue to be friends until death.
I’m actually from the UK, and I’m a professor of music at Royal Holloway, University of London. But I’m here on an humanitarian project doing voluntary work, and using my skills as a musician, and doing courses in songwriting and digital storytelling. Yeah. I mean, we have to thank a lot Rachel and Francesco, because they are fantastic with the guys. And they had this idea of making a music project with the guys, which is very important for the guys, but I think also for their integration in our society. Because, for example, they made little concerts in pubs here in Syracuse where they meet Italian guys the same age.
I think the music is a language every guy in this age, the teenager, understands.
I kick-started a set of musical laboratories, as they call them here– music workshops. And what you heard just now was a song that was written by two such young asylum seekers. And that’s one way of working on the music, to just draw other people in and teach them the chorus, and make sure it’s a community project as well as a project about individuals expressing themselves. We can also invite musicians from the locality to help us perform these songs, for example. We’ve done that quite a lot. And we’ve done concerts in which there’s a Sicilian drummer, bass player, and then I’m playing the sax or the keyboards, and Francesco’s playing the guitar.
And so these boys then sing their songs, but they’ve got a backing of local people. And that’s part of an integration process, because then they’re performing for a very mixed audience as well. I’ve been working with Rachel and Francesco for, let me say six months now. Last year when I got to my new camp– here I am. They transferred me, so when I got to that place I found them. They came to the centre to teach songs. But me, I don’t really know that I can sing. So the moment they came they put two people together. So I tried my best at singing a song.
Yeah, it makes me understand Italy better, to understand the people, what they like, the type of song they like, the type of organisation they like to be in. Yeah, it made me understand the people a little bit.

Social integration is important for all those who arrive as refugees and migrants. There are many projects taking place around the world to support unaccompanied and separated children and young people to integrate into their local communities.

In this video you will hear from Carla Frenguelli, the President of a national NGO, Accoglierete. Accoglierete recognises the importance of developing projects that help unaccompanied children and young people become part of their local community in different ways. In this video you will see a music workshop taking place in a centre purposefully designed to be shared by Accoglierete and other local organisations.

The workshop is being led by Rachel Beckles Willson and Francesco Iannuzzelli. You will learn how a music project is helping unaccompanied young people not only to socialise with one another but also with other musicians in the local community. You will also hear a young man called Wisdom explain how performances in local venues are providing a means of social integration.

In the video we see how Accoglierete helps connect unaccompanied young people with local employers. We will meet Adam who was helped to find work in a patisserie. The owner of the patisserie then asked the team at Accoglierete if there was anyone else seeking employment. Now, through a peer-to-peer programme, Adam is mentoring his friend and colleague Anadou.

Social integration is all about partnerships and collaboration between people from the local community and refugee and migrants. It is also about collaboration between organisations. Integration is especially important for young people who are leaving alternative care and starting to live independently. It can affect many aspects of their lives including access to employment, education, and recreation opportunities. It is also about a sense of belonging, as well as contributing to society.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has published guidance on opportunities for local integration. The guidance tells us about three specific areas of integration – legal, economic, and social:

  • Legal – The legal dimension involves the establishment of a legal framework in which refugees gradually attain a wider range of rights in the host State – possibly, but not necessarily, leading to full citizenship and naturalization
  • Economic – The economic dimension involves enabling refugees to establish sustainable livelihoods and a standard of living comparable to their host community
  • Social – The social dimension of local integration utilises social and cultural frameworks to enable access to local services, as well as participation in the social fabric of the community. Developing a sense of social and cultural belonging can help with feelings of isolation and loneliness

Among the challenges that unaccompanied and separated children and young people face is that of discrimination. While we were making this short video, young people involved in the music workshops told us how opportunities to engage in the local community through social events is helping overcome some of that discrimination. They also told us how social integration not only helps them overcome feelings of isolation and loneliness but also helps build confidence, access local services and opens up a range of other social and economic opportunities.

If you would like to hear more of the music recorded by the group led by Rachel and Francesco, you can find it here.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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