Description of the AB Réfugiés-Social project
The Interreg FWVL AB Réfugiés-Social project (2018-2022) aims at promoting the integration of persons with a migrant background recently arrived in France and Belgium, by improving social support of newcomers (asylum seekers under certain conditions; unaccompanied minors; statutory refugees) on both sides of the border.
This project, is co-funded by the European Regional development Fund (ERDF) and by the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Hauts-de-France. It includes several cross-border activities that are developed, tested and evaluated by all the partners. If the results of this evaluation meet our objectives, then these activities could be sustained after the project lifetime.
Review of the main activities carried out by La Vie Active:
- The roll-out of the IntegraPsy mobile team
IntegraPsy is a new health and social support service which consists in two mobile teams: La Vie Active is covering the French side of the FWVL area (i.e. the Hauts-de-France region), whilst the Centre de Référence en Santé Mentale (CréSAM) is operating in the Walloon region. These two teams work together on the developpement of a common framework to respond rapidly to situations of psychosocial distress (angst, anxiety, depression, addictions, post-traumatic stress, etc.) by intervening as closely as possible to newcomers, including unaccompanied minors. These people are hosted in reception centres, scattered housing, etc. and the social organisations that host them now have the possibility call IntegraPsy, which provides adapted psychosocial support, individual listening and follow-up, discussion groups, needs assessment for psychological help and possibly a referral to other health professionals.
Depending on the regional contexts, IntegraPsy relies on an experienced team of psychologists, therapists, social workers, ‘ambassadors of integration’ (i.e. professionals with a migrant background) who act as mediator-interpreters, as well as certified interpreters provided by our Belgian project partner SéTIS wallon.
- The development of the new role of ‘ambassador of integration’
The experiment of IntegraPsy teams highlighted the emergence of a new role: the ambassadors of integration. Inspired by a peer support model already in place in the Flemish region, the French team represented by the Humanitarian Service of La Vie Active, is asserting a similar professional role for many years. AB Réfugiés-Social is an opportunity to institutionalize this new role.
The ambassadors of integration are professionals with migrant background. Arrived in France several months or years ago, they have completed a successful integration process since they have settled permanently in our country. At La Vie Active, these men and women are employed at our reception establishments for asylum seekers and refugees. Their actual role in the establishments where they are allocated often went beyond their initial job profile, as our support workers (i.e. psychologists, jurists, educators, etc.) regularly need their following specific skills:
- They speak rare languages often unknown by our support workers
- They have experienced a migration path therefore they can provide peer-support
- They are seen as ‘success stories’ which can help the newcomers to foresee positive new perspectives and a source of inspiration for their own integration process
Thus, in the French side of the border, the ambassadors of the integration are an integral part of the psychosocial support provided by the IntegraPsy mobile team. They intervein one at a time, depending on the specific needs of our beneficiary (mostly depending their national language), for individual support meetings with a psychologist, or a jurist in Human rights and refugee law, or educators. Our ambassadors often meet new beneficiairies coming from regions close to their own.
Their participation in the AB Réfugiés-Social project also allows them to co-create and benefit from a dedicated training programme, in which they will develop other skills in mediation, psychological support, access to Human rights, health and citizenship of refugees in difficulties.
The development of collective actions for unaccompanied minors
Leaded by our new Walloon project partner, the Centre de Référence en Santé Mentale (CRéSAM), a series of collective actions targeting unaccompanied minors are implemented as part of the AB Réfugiés-Social project: they can be based on various themes (social, health, culture, education, citizenship, sports) that educators can define with the minors, depending on their interests.
In the French side of the border, these collective actions are mainly proposed at our reception centre unaccompanied minors and young asylum seekers, located in Condette, a village near Boulogne-Sur-Mer. This establishment of La Vie Active is hosting and supporting unaccompanied minors. For summer 2020, an educator of this establishment who is also member of the IntegraPsy team, proposed activities around the environmental theme.
The Project partners
The Secrétariat Général pour les Affaires Régionales (SGAR) Hauts-de-France, Lead Partner of the AB Réfugiés-Social project, is a regional French governmental unit headed by the regional Prefect.
The Regional Prefect acts as the representative of the State of France in the region Hauts-de-France. He is responsible of the application of national and community laws in our region. He represents the decentralised administrative authorities and has the authority on Departments’ Prefects who are in charge of the regional administrative sub-units called les départements.
More specifically, the SGAR is in charge of the regional animation of public policies and inter-ministerial coordination. It ensures the implementation of network’s modernisation and mutualisation.
The Direction Régionale de la Jeunesse, des Sports et de la Cohésion Sociale (DRJSCS) Hauts-de-France is another regional French governmental service, which is representing the State’s action at regional level in the fields of social cohesion, associative life, sports and youth. The DRJSCS has its own responsibilities, in particular in the analysis of the evolution of practices, training in sports and entertainment, high-performance and professional sport, preventing actions for young people, and best safety practices. The DRJSCS federates different State’ services whose common objective is to strengthen social bonds. In the AB Réfugiés-Social project, the DRJSCS coordinates the departmental directorates of social cohesion of the Hauts-de-France region (DDCS). The main mission of these DDCS is to prevent and fight against exclusion and to protect vulnerable populations (including the refugees).
La Vie active is a key actor of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) keeps developing itself to better support its members/users facing difficulties in their daily lives.
Its active commitment addresses all the fields of action of the Health and Social Care sector. La Vie Active mainly targets children, adults, dependent elderly persons, as well as people with disabilities and vulnerable people.
The Centre de Référence en Santé Mentale (CRéSAM) is a Belgian association that supports Walloon professionals’ actions in the field of mental health and their integration in a mental health care network. The CRéSAM has five main objectives: supporting regional mental health stakeholders, monitoring an observatory, research and formulating recommendations, information, diffusion and producing documentation in the mental health sector, trans-regional and trans-sectorial consultation between mental health stakeholders.
Since several years, the CRéSAM also organizes consultation composed of six Walloon psychosocial teams specialized in supporting people with migrant background, by strengthening mental health actions at regional level.
The Walloon SéTIS is another Belgian association that defines itself as tool for public policy in the field of social cohesion, equal opportunities, fighting against discrimination and promoting the integration of people with migrant background in Wallonia. They provide interpretation services in health and social care settings allowing understanding between front-line social workers and their beneficiaries. Accredited interpreters specialized in health and social care contribute to improve equal opportunities and integration in our intercultural society.
The SéTIS provides trained professionals for public and private/associative services working in Wallonia with people with migrant background, its accredited interpreters team has experience and skills to facilitate communication and mutual understanding between the two parties involved.
The Administration Provinciale de Flandres-Occidentale is a Flemish regional public authority. Since 2015, it has designed a ‘Refugee Task-force’ aiming at informing, coordinating and co-creating action for the benefit of people with migrant background. This Task-force has three objectives: launching a process of smooth integration, matching the supply and demand in regional labour market et facilitate civic and social integration of newcomers.
The Agence Régional de Santé (ARS) Hauts-de-France
The Directions Départementales de la Cohésion Sociale of l’Aisne, Nord, l’Oise, Pas-de-Calais and Somme.
The Service public of Wallonia – Agence de la santé, de la protection sociale, du handicap et des familles.
The Service public of Wallonia – Direction générale opérationnelle des affaires intérieures et de l’action sociale
Main features of the AB Réfugiés-Social project:
Duration of the project: 51 months (du 01/04/2018 au 30/06/2022)
Overall budget forecast (6 project partners): 1 389 738,81 €
Overall budget forecast of La Vie Active: 236 743,04 €
A project co-funded by:
The European cross-border cooperation programme Interreg France-Wallonie-Vlaanderen (FWVL) – European Regional Development Fund ERDF (50%): 118 371,52 €
The Agence régionale de Santé (ARS) Hauts-de-France : 67 000 €