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Social integration (Part 1)

Video explaining the importance of social integration in Sicily.

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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