Best Practice 1

New Channels for the Integration of Third Country Nationals (TCNs) in the Local Community

The program “New Channels for Integration” delivers multiple actions addressing children, adolescents, adults and Parents of TCNs in various dimensions of the integration of TCNs in Cypriot society. 

In particular, Program actions are addressed to TCNs who enjoy refugee status or subsidiary international protection status (meaning of Directive 2011/95/EU), to asylum seekers or who enjoy temporary protection (meaning of Directive 2001/55/EC), are being or have been resettled in or transferred from a Member State, reside and work Lawfully in a Member State, comply with the specific measures and/ or conditions prior to departure, as defined by national and European legislation, including measures relating to the ability to integrate in the Cypriot society as an EU Member State.

Further, the Project is addressed to children, adolescents, adults and parents of TCNs legally residing in Cyprus with one of the status mentioned above.  The origin of these individuals may be from Palestine, Syria, Africa (Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Somali) Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kurds, Philippines, or India and they might be:

  •  Working parents who seek for childcare services, supporting teaching and creative child services.
  • Young people or families who seek for psychosocial or/and psychological support.
  • ·Individuals who seek guidance, information and safeguarding of their human/ health/ labor rights and networking with the community services.
  • Individuals who seek cultural expression and communication with the wider social environment.

The Project addresses to organized groups of migrant organizations (from Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Chinese, Arabs, Africa, Vietnam, etc) other NGOs and local social protection structures active in facilitating the integration of YTX into the local community.

The referring project is a continuation of the integration projects that have been successively funded under the European Integration Funds for TCNs in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 and of the 2015 program funded by the Asylum, Immigration and Integration Fund implemented by the local authorities involved in the corporate scheme. It includes multilevel actions of social support, information, and networking and co-operation actions of the TCNs with the local community. The Action is fully in line with the policies of admission and integration of TCNs in Cypriot society, and is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the EU (90%) and the Republic of Cyprus (10%).

The Project contained multidimensional approaches to the process of meeting the needs of social integration. Therefore, the following actions had been designed and provided by the Program’s partners: a) Networking actions of Immigrant Associations with local authorities and social protection structures; b) Provision of social support actions for TCNs; c) Provision of guidance actions for TCNs; d) Organization of cultural events exchange of experiential cultural expressions with the local community; e) Sporting activities; f) Publicity actions regarding the results of the Project; g) Evaluation actions; h) Management actions.

The philosophy of the project was based on two pillars: a) activities that are directly related to the services provided at a group or an individual level and aim in strengtheningand empowering the TCNs and b) supportive actions, complementing the first set of activities aimed at developing social solidarity networks at local level, raising public awareness and publicizing the project.

Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation was based on the first (a) pillar which included the followings Axis:

1.       Approach – Information –awareness

2.       Social Support Programs:

a.       Daycare services and creative activities for children of TCNs.

b.       Individual counseling  supporting integration of TCNs

c.       Cultural Identity preservation programs for TCN children of Arab and Chinese origins

d.       Individual and Family psychosocial and psychological support

3.       Integration  and Orientation Workshops and seminars

4.     Approach – Information –awareness

This refers to the organization of Forums of public discussion for matters concerning the needs and issues relating to the TCN’s integration in the local community. It also encompass the exchange of information, beliefs and experiences between TCNs, NGOs, public services, local Authorities and Government Authorities and the dissemination of the outcomes to the local community for raising awareness.

5.    . Social Support Programs

a.       Daycare services and creative activities for children of TCNs.

This action provides day-to-day care and creative activities services for children aged 5-12 years out of school hours (13:00-18:00) and during school holidays (07:00-18:00). In addition, it has ensured the transfer of children from schools to the Center, free lunch meals and afternoon snacks, creative activities, excursions, training visits, teaching of the concept of multiculturalism, diversity etc.

Children were given the opportunity to participate in activities that they might not have access to, due to low family financial resources and possible social exclusion. In addition, they were given an opportunity to interact with children of Cypriots and from other origins. Following, the main activities are presented: 

1.       Guidance and Support for regular homework and special assignments

2.       Creative activities (art, educational games using contemporary electronic and interactive media, open air games, introduction to multiculturalism and diversity concepts) various activities such as Karate, ZoumbaKids, Theater and Chess

3.       English Language Course

4.       Provision of service for assessment of learning difficulties and further support, according to needs, in cooperation with a special center

5.       All-day guarding during school holidays (7:00 am-6:00 pm)

6.       Visits to the Municipal Swimming Pool during the summer months, including swimming lessons

7.       Educational and leisure activities and excursions inside and outside Nicosia, including beach visits during the summer months

a.       Individual counseling, supporting integration of TCNs.

This includes the provision of psychosocial and counseling services, guidance, information and networking with TCN associations or organized groups and other NGOs. It also encompassed the dissemination of information on the program’s services and other local actions of the local community for the Integration of TCNs.

The above services are provided by the “Immigrant’s Networking Office” situated in Solomos square and at Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation’s branch in Pallouriotissa named “KEPLYM”. The “Immigrant’s Networking Office” of KEPLYM is in a main area of Nicosia where many TCNs pass by and it operates as a “one-stop shop” while TCNs can facilitating the provision of information and guidance regarding issues of integration in the local community. The “Immigrant’s Networking Office” works every Sunday in order to meet the TCNs needs.

b.       Cultural Identity preservation programs for TCN children of Arab and Chinese origins.

Two Cultural Identity Conservation Programs (Language Education and Cultural Elements of Origin) for immigrant children from China and Arab countries are offered every weekend or even afternoon at the Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation. Inclusion in a program for preserving a cultural identity of children from Arab countries has been a demand of Arab-speaking communities for many years. This has been implemented in a similar way to the Chinese Cultural Identity preservation program, which has been operating successfully for four years”. The main activities are presented as follow:

  • Cultural Identity Conservation Program for Chinese YTD Children: Chinese language classes, Chinese art and calligraphy, go chess, ping pong.
  • Cultural Identity Conservation Program for Arabian Children: Arabic language classes, Arab art and culture, Arabic cuisine, athletic activities.

c.       Individual and Family psychosocial and psychological support

Providing counseling to individuals and families regarding either interpersonal or family problems, work related problems, integration problems etc. The provision of these services is operated by the Center for the Information and Support of Immigrants (KEPLYM), which is assisted by the “Immigrant’s Networking Office”, which operates on Sundays at a central point in Nicosia for better access of the TCNs.

3. Integration and Orientation Workshops and seminars

The empowerment and orientation workshops and seminars materialized to meet the needs of TCNs for Integration.

a.       The “Orientation workshop” is a three-hour workshop group held with the help of a professional instructor. The workshop is an empirical tour to familiarize the participants with the historical center of the city and emphasize its importance.

b.       Re-bE is a Community, a “Music Listening” experiential workshop, personalized for each group and participant. The purpose of Re-bE Community, is to encourage and inspire the participants to feel accepted and welcome in Cyprus, its aims is to instil a deep sense of worth and belonging in them, through their connection with music, their personal expression through their identity, authenticity and through creativity. Re-bE was specifically designed for Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation, referring to the immigrant women, living in Cyprus. By providing a safe environment for the women aims to develop a sense of belonging and to feel welcome to remember who they are and to be who they are. Re-bE was an empirical experience based on the following creative and interactive categories: Re-bE Music, Re- bE Art, Re- bE Storytelling, Re- bE Creative Movement, Re- bE Creative Curiosity and Re- bE Environment-Acoustic Ecology.

The process of integrating TCNs into Cypriot society has been successfully supported by the Program’s actions, improving the capacity for social inclusion, cohesion and socialization, as well as preventing social exclusion. Moreover, the outcomes of the Program’s Evaluation refer to a grid of actions that are tailored to the hard core of the accompanying services to adult TCNs and their dependent children which meet their needs for Integration:

a.       The self-confidence and self-interest of the individuals/members of the target group is ensured.

b.       The development of interactions between the target group members, those responsible for the activities and the members of the local community has been achieved.

c.       The actions respond to the socialization, acceptance and synergy of TCNs with the local community.

d.       The actions combine the personalized approach of the individual and the flexibility to meet their needs by “unification” of the services provided and the development of models/wider application models.

e.       The Program complies with the scientific standards of validity and reliability in relation to the design and implementation of project programs.

The implementation of these actions responds both to the general methodological principles of the promotion of integration activities and to the specific requirements of strengthening the TCNs, which include:

a.       Personalized approach of the beneficiary.

b.       Activation and participation of the beneficiary in the activities that concern them.

c.       Respecting the personality of the beneficiary and strengthening the self-determination procedures.

d.       Application of theoretical, experiential and collaborative/participatory learning methods.

e.       Developing equivalent relationships between the beneficiary and the project counselors / trainers.

Thus, the services provided constitute an integrated system with the following characteristics:

a.       Works independently or with a combination of social services with regard to the benefit of the individual.

b.       It is open to all local social support, training and information services.

c.       It is based primarily on the personalized relationship of the social worker/counselor and the beneficiary TCN.

Approach– Information–Awareness

The operation of the Network of the NGOs is an innovative action regarding its design and its application but it can also serve as a tool for public discussions, programming, involvement and actions of awareness and gradual countermeasures of the social issues and accessibility of TCNs in local authority’s services. It is also a good practice and role model for implementation by other Migration organizations and NGOs and local Authorities in Cyprus.

Daycare services and creative activities for children of TCNs.

Through this program 30 children and their parents received services. An evaluation was assessed with parents being called to answer on their satisfaction for the program, in a Liker-scale (1-5). Most of the parents responded in the highest satisfaction (Mean= 4.8). Regarding their satisfaction on organizational skills, the place, the quality of services provided, the provision of service, understanding and courtesy, 65% of the parents responded “A lot”, 26% ‘enough’ and 7% “somewhat”. Last, all the participants completed (100%) the Program. The findings above show a very promising and with grate sustainability program.

The day care service benefits both the parents and the children participating; by giving children of TCNs the opportunity, to participate in activities that they might not had the financial ability, to interact with children of Cypriots and from other origins, educate both children of Cypriots and TCN’s about the concept of multiculturalism, diversity and acceptance. This will bring only positive outcomes in the future society as the future citizens will have all the skills to form a peaceful multicultural society. At the same time the program supports their parents who need to provide to their families through entering or remaining in the labor market by leaving their children in a safe and quality daycare center.

“Migrant Networking Office for TCNs”   

The operation of the “Migrant Networking Office” at a nodal point in the heart of the capital adds an additional dimension to innovation and good practice by enhancing access conditions for the immigrant population living and working in the Nicosia major area to the program’s services.

This action was the “key point” for the dissemination of all the other actions of the Program, but at the same time it served 30 people providing them with information, guidance and support services. Qualitative, it is worthy to refer that a lot of TCNs were supported with various TCN’s issues; labor relations, domestic violence, women entering the labor market, child care, interpersonal, family, residence permit, language etc. Furthermore, many of the clients of the office were likely to revisit or recommend it to their acquaintances and relatives.

The Chinese & Arab cultural identity preservation programs

In the Chinese and Arab Cultural Identity Preservation Program’s participants were called to answered in an assessment for their satisfaction for the Program; the Chinese responded in the highest satisfaction (Mean= 4.75) and the Arabs also responded in the highest satisfaction (Mean= 4.75). The findings show that both programs are embraced by both societies and in the long run it will serve as an important acquisition for both the participants but for the Cypriot community.

The Cultural Identity Preservation Program for children of Chinese TCN’s has been established and has been operating successfully for the last 4 years. The program contributes to the acquisition of specific skills (language etc.), which in the long run can be an important qualification for the children themselves as well as for the Cypriot economy and on the other hand to strengthen the relations of local society/community and migrant organizations. Same impacts are expected in the long run from the program for the TCNs of Arab origins.

Integration and orientation workshops and seminars

52 Individuals participated in the Workshops/ Seminars. The Workshops and Seminars organized by Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation are popular to TCNs. These workshops/seminars were repeated after the request of TCNs. Most of the participants completing an assessment on their satisfaction from the Instructor and the workshops, evaluated the workshops with the maximum satisfaction (Mean=4.75).

The above Workshops pass the feeling of acceptance and belonging in the community, raise self-confidence and bring an unctuous integration of TCNs. It is important that the TCNs feel welcome and accepted in the community. Through the seminars/workshops TCNs are able to understand and be informed for the main aspects of the host culture for their eminence integration and embrace their selves in it.

Children & Family Policy

Citizenship & Civic Engagement

Social Cohesion & Identity

             

Education

 Participation in political processes and in decision-making

 Cultural awareness 

  Mental Health Support 

 Cultural Identity Preservation

 

☒ Language Training

☒ Language Assessment

☒  Intercultural communication

☒ Study Visits

☒ Mentoring Services

 

New Channels for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (TCNs) in the Local Community was implemented in Nicosia, Cyprus. This was a collaborative project administered by Nicosia Municipality, as the Lead Partner. The rest of the partners of the project were Ayios Dometios, Engomi and Lakatamia Municipalities, the Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation and the consultants “NVK Advent Consulting” and “Losadeal Ltd”. 

The geographical scope of the proposed Action includes primarily the Municipalities involved in the Action (Nicosia Municipality, Agios Dometios Municipality, Engomis Municipality and Lakatamia Municipality) which are geographically cohesive.

For the above reasons, the support of vulnerable groups is a timeless priority for the city of Nicosia. The development of policies for social protection, integration and acceptance of diversity is a fundamental concern. Nicosia’s local authorities are actively involved in shaping national social policy, claiming national and European resources, and working with the central government and civil society to resolve social inequalities and secure social rights for all its citizens.

MMC, Nicosia, Cyprus

Name: Stavroula Georgopoulou

Organization: Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation

Telephone: 22797850/860

Email: stavroula.georgopoulou@nicosiamunicipality.org.cy

            polidinamo@nicosiamunicipality.org.cy 

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