The Greek Forum of Refugees (GFR) as a Self-Advocacy grassroots organization founded by refugees, with refugees for refugees. Based on the idea of Self-Advocacy, Greek Forum of Refugees created a Self-Advocacy Team out of the need expressed by the community members to be included in all matters related to society, under the main argument that political inclusion was a key element of social inclusion.
In the last three years, the Self-Advocacy Team methodology was introduced by the Greek Forum of Refugees in several European projects that promote self-advocacy, train advocates, create and provide opportunities for decision-makers and self-advocates to share ideas & good practices on a common table in an attempt to influence future policies. These projects are materialized by active participation of the Self-Advocacy Team itself and the Greek Forum of Refugees’ office, specifically, by the hard work of our advocacy officer and coordinator of our Self-Advocacy Team George Stefanopoulos and the coordinator of HARTS initiative Photene Kalpakiotis, our communication officer Christos Lazaridis, and the projects’ assistant, Panagiota Kapsali.
Establishing an official communication between our Community members and the State is the most prominent objective of the Greek Forum of Refugees. The Greek Municipalities’ Migrant & Refugee Integration Councils (MRICs) offer a platform for the interaction between the local authorities and the migrant & refugee population. The engagement Greek Forum of Refugees through its Self-Advocacy Team in the MRICs sessions is considered a best practice on inclusion and integration and it was noted by organisations and individuals around the EU and had as an outcome a project that would define this practice as a solid factor of integration throughout Europe.
The DEPART project (Developing Effective Policies for migrants and refugees through SAT-based policy-making processes) is one of the projects that aim to this specific interaction. DEPART is co-funded by the European Commission, specifically from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).
The project aims to contribute to the concrete inclusion of migrants and refugees in Member States through the establishment of a structured and formalised way to consult migrants on policies that directly concern them called Self-Advocacy teams (SATs). SATs are a flexible, rooted and participating solution to give Third-Country Nationals (TCNs) empowerment and representativeness functional to their holistic integration in EU societies.
The project intends to create a path involving major stakeholders of inclusive policy-making processes in Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Spain (migrants refugees, policy-makers and practitioners), to develop and test at EU level a methodology successfully piloted among TCNs in Greece. The methodology is built around the concepts of integrated, evidence-based and participatory approaches leading to:
- Assess the policy-making processes with reference to TCNs inclusiveness in hosting society, especially to understand the obstacles to mobilization, representation and participation of TCNs
- Empower TCNs on their rights and the potentialities of proactive approaches to local policy-making as a step towards inclusion
- Raise awareness and increase capability of policymakers and institutional officers about inclusive policy-making processes,
- Implement pilot co-design policy meetings between the actors in play to test the cooperative and concrete process that will be disseminated
The results of the whole empowering and co-designing process will be evaluated by a robust impact evaluation plan able to deliver EU Member States an effective methodology and disseminated online and offline within a communication framework that goes beyond the average projects’ dissemination actions.
In doing so, DEPART in the medium and long run will contribute to the integration of migrants and refugees delivering Member States a methodology proven in different areas of EU to increase the participation of migrants in matters affecting them and making them owners of new tools.
The project takes place in four (4) different European countries with partners both from organisations and Municipalities. Led by the Greek Forum of Refugees, the rest of project partners are:
- University of Barcelona (UAB), Research Centre for Migration (CER)
- Ares 2.0, Social Communication
- Leonardo Progetti Sociali
- Asocolgi, Socio-cultural association of Colombians for integration in Girona
- Council of Refugee Women Bulgaria
- Municipality of Avezzano
- Municipality of Girona
- Municipality of Oborishte
- Municipality of Piraeus
For more information about the project, visit the project’s official website through this link.