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Tackling migrants’ inclusion in European cities: an EPIC kick-off

From January 29th to 31st, 2020, the EPIC project – European Platform for Integrating Cities held its kick-off meeting first in the ENAIP quarters in the city of Vicenza, and then in the beautiful Villa Miari in the Municipality of Santorso, Italy.

The 3-year project, funded by the AMIF programme of the European Union, addresses the challenges of migrants’ integration by targeting small- to medium-sized cities that feel the need to develop expertise in areas such as housing, labour integration, integration policies or counter-narratives, and at the same time want to lend their expertise to support fellow local authorities.

The objective is to transfer knowledge and know-how among Local Authorities and NGOs with different degrees of experience and support a direct peer-to-peer practical learning that foresees the exchange of knowledge, skills, and personnel on migrant integration matters. Furthermore, this approach will generate a tight-knit network of self-sustaining local authorities providing successful and efficient integration services.

ALDA is proudly Lead Partner of this ambitious course of action, side by side with 15 other partners, of which 7 are non-governmental organisations and 6 are Local Authorities. These include Associazione ADL Zavidovici, Cooperazione Studio e Progetto 2, Symbiosis, Jesuit Refugee Service Portugal, Jesuit Refugee Service Croatia, Kitev, Solidaridad sin Frontera, the Municipality of Brescia, the Municipality of Ioannina, the City of Lisbon, the Municipality of Oberhausen, the Metropolitan City of Gdansk, the Municipality of Sisak, the University College London and the European Association for Information on Local Development (AEIDL).

The kick-off event started with an internal meeting of 2 days during which the partner representatives met, discussed and planned the direction of the next steps of the project; the participants also had the chance to take part in the moving Silent Play by the local theatre company “La Piccionaia”, titled “Memories from our escape”. On the third day, the conference “The EPIC project and other experiences to create inclusive communities" was held in Santorso to officially launch the project to the wider audience.

The public event consisted in a highly fruitful morning with the welcoming and introductory speeches by Franco Balzi, Mayor of Santorso, and Antonio De Martin, Project Manager of the RECOV project, which were then followed by a panel discussion on the topic of “the premises for the creation of inclusive communities through welcome practices, digitalization and narration”.

Moderating the discussion was Dolinda Cavallo, ALDA Project Manager for the EPIC project, who counted on the intervention of Daniela Zago, Il Mondo nella Città; Marta Siciarek, Metropolitan City of Gdansk; Alessandra Dal Pozzolo, Cooperativa Sociale Studio Progetto; and Ron Salaj, multidisciplinary activist. The conference drew to an end with ALDA Secretary-General Antonella Valmorbida’s intervention on her experience of cooperation between local associations and civil society for inclusive communities, while eclectic ALDA expert Marco Boaria led the collective “World Café” on how to improve welcome and inclusion practices for Third Country Nationals (TCNs).

The audience actively participated in the latter, divided into four groups of interest to discuss specific areas of intervention. A report from their exchange of ideas and expertise will be made available in the near future.

A lunch buffet and networking moment brought the kick-off meeting to a very pleasant end. Next EPIC appointment: Ioannina, Greece in June 2020! 

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