The 3rd workshop of the Connection project in Thessaloniki was successfully completed
Filled with new ideas and best impressions the partners of the European project CONNECTION (CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration actiON) who participated in the third workshop of the Community of Practice 1 (CoP-1) concerning the "How to develop a strategic approach to integration, participation, and interaction".
In the three-day workshop, along with the executives of ANATOLIKI SA and the collaborating municipalities of Thessaloniki and Delta, participated representatives’ partners from Paris, the municipalities of Turin, Piedmont, and the development Agency ANCI, as well as the project coordinators, Eurocities and Migration Work. Partners from Zagreb and Hamburg canceled their participation due to the Ukrainian crisis and the influx of refugees into their territories.
Aiming to exchange experiences on the refugees’ and immigrants’ integration policies pursued by Greece and particular by the municipalities of Thessaloniki and Delta and to find the best practices to be included in the CoP-1 policy guidelines manuals and implementation videos, the agenda of the workshop follows as bellow:
On March 15, in the premises of the Thessaloniki’s City Hall, the workshop began with Mr. Socrates Samaras, President of ANATOLIKI SA, to address a warm welcome speech, emphasizing on the close cooperation of ANATOLIKI with the Municipality of Thessaloniki and its participation, after the outbreak of the immigration issue in 2015, in projects / programs hosting refugees and immigrants. Afterwards, Ms. Melina Spyridou, Head of the Social Policy Department of Thessaloniki Municipality, made a brief report in the conte xt of the services of the Department as a whole - including issues of integration of immigrants and refugees - and a very detailed presentation on the specialized refugees’ reception- accommodation programs: “filoxeneio” Asylum for Families of Asylum Seekers, “REACT program” Rental accommodation scheme for asylum seekers and the Migrants Integration Center. Mr. Anastasios Telidis, Special Advisor to the Mayor of Thessaloniki for economic and immigration policy issues addressed a short, but high comprehensive presentation on the Inclusion Policies of the municipality at the local level. The morning round of talks was completed with Ms. Lamprini Tsakalaki, Head of the Department of Social Protection, Public Health, Education, Sports, and Culture of the Municipality of Delta, developing the migration integration plan of the municipality, referring to the current situation and social services including REACT project and new actions that will be put into operation, mainly the Migrants Integration Center.
Subsequently, networking activities in the field of integration in Greece were presented by Ms. Eleftheria Pita, psychologist, executive in the human resources department on behalf of ANATOLIKI SA. and Ms. Dorothea Kokozidou, Integration advisor UNHCR / Municipality of Thessaloniki. The day ended with Mr. Aristis Tzonis, Head of Social Actions Sector, Young Men's Christian Association, and Thomas Charalambidis, lawyer / collaborator of NGO ARSIS in matters of child protection for unaccompanied foreigners’ minors to present in-depth actions of their organizations. Speeches of 1rts day were under the overall coordination of Ms. Eftychia Kivrakidou, Project Partner of the project and Director of Financial, Administrative and Human Resources of ANATOLIKI SA.
On the second day, March 16, a numerous of visits to places and institutions of political inclusion were planned and to the 4th High School of Thessaloniki with Ms. Theodora Papamanou, refugee education coordinator, to present briefly the educational policy of Greece regarding the integration of refugee children and immigrants, to Thessaloniki’s Municipal Migrants’ integration Centre, to the social pharmacy of the Municipality of Delta and finally to Open Facility of First Reception in Diavata for third country or stateless citizens. During visits / guided tours the project partners had the opportunity to learn about the services provided to the beneficiaries / served and to talk with refugees, immigrants and hear their stories.
On the last day, March 17, the partners visited and had a friendly chat with beneficiary refugees living in apartments rented by ANATOLIKI SA in the context of the REACT project. They talked about how refugees perceive and evaluate the services provided by the program, they listened to their course, their difficulties, and their frustrations. Finally, they stood in the beautiful, quiet days in Greece with the warm welcome from their neighborhood and the reminder of their life in normalcy. Kenzy, a refugee student, gave one of her paintings to the Italian partners.
The 3rd workshop was completed with the partners planning the next steps of the project.
The CONNECTION project is funded by the EU and its financial instrument AMIF (Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund).
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