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Highlitghs from the webinar on One-Stop-Shops

The Development Agency of Eastern Thessaloniki’s Local Authorities ANATOLIKI SA, participated in a webinar on “One-stop-shop for migrant integration”, on Monday 15 June. The webinar was organized by Eurocities and Migrationwork in the framework of the CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action under the ASYLUM, MIGRATION and INTEGRATION FUND (AMIF).

Managing the integration of migrants is a challenge faced by all level of governance. The range of institutions involved in the integration process, the lack of cooperation between the different stakeholders, the diversity of procedures and complex bureaucracy, the cultural and linguistic miscommunications between State actors and migrant communities are some of the different obstacles that hinder the integration of migrants. By bringing services together under one roof, one-stop-shops can contribute to overcome these obstacles and facilitate the integration process of new-comers.

One-Stop-Shops (OSS) have been described as a “site where reciprocal integration is possible”, as an OSS encourages the adaptation of the city itself to migrants.

Creating an OSS, a space where state (and often non-state) actors come together under one roof to offer multiple services to support migrant integration, has several advantages:

  • It sends a message to migrant communities that services within the OSS are aligned and working together to support the migrants, which builds trust between migrants and the host community.
  • If streamlined and effective, OSSs create very efficient and accessible pathways for migrants to participate in the host community.
  • They are cost effective for cities because services should be working more efficiently through coming together.

Creating an effective OSS implies that the services that come together create a shared and joined up system: they create a single entry point; Essentially a new way of working is created, in which all services involved must adapt.

Cooperation with migrant associations in the design, the delivery and the management of the OSS are very important for the OSS to be a community led and community earned initiative. It is very import to involve migrants not only as cultural mediators working at the OSS, but also through migrant associations to provide advice on its functioning. However, the limitation of resources of these organisations can be an obstacle to ‘on-site’ cooperation.

In the webinar, it was also emphasised the added value of having staff with a migrant background working in the OSS as well as speaking the language of the migrants, which is highly appreciated by the clients of the OSS. The downside to this approach is that some clients expect staff to help them with ALL kinds of issues, which can be quite stressful for the mentor.

OSS leads to something greater than just co-presence of state and non-state actors on the same premises. They can serve as a bridge between the migrant communities and the other public services and led to a deeper understanding of each other’s work by hearing the difficulties and challenges encountered by the migrant communities and reporting them to the services concerned.

Some very helpful tips to cities contemplating the creation of an OSS:

(1) Align the vocabulary between the different organisations that come together in the OSS
(e.g. knowledge of national language: what level are we referring to;

(2) Define in advance the mandate and power of the OSS;

(3) Have a view of the entire chain of intervention in your OSS;

(4) Devote sufficient time to addressing logistical issues beforehand, such as computer and printer compatibility of the different services that come together.

It is also important to think in advance about the size of the premises depending on the number of services the city wants to provide and depending on the size of the targeted population. These details can have detrimental effect if they are not considered at the beginning.



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