Promising practice in the area of labour market / social integration of refugees | Part B

Αντώνης Πύργος,

Σύμβουλος στους τομείς της κοινωνικής πολιτικής και της κοινωνικής ένταξης, της μετανάστευσης, της αγοράς εργασίας


Promising practice in the area of labour market / social integration of refugees | Part A


Title of the policy: Convivial: integration of refugees

Keywords: Refugees, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and asylum seekers


Specific policy, labour market or social problem being addressed

Every year, Convivial ensures the follow-up of around 800 refugees in finding accommodation. When a person obtains the refugee status, they have to leave the accommodation centre within 2 months. Quite logically, the priority is to find an accommodation which will constitute the starting point of their new life and be a crucial step in their administrative and social integration. However, that research can prove difficult. Indeed, refugees have to face the difficulty of finding accommodation with a low income, but they usually also have difficulties with the language and the administrative system. It is also necessary to reassure landlords on the financial aspect of accepting someone who is dependent on the CPAS, as well as on the image they can have of the lifestyle of a foreigner.


Main activities/actions underpinning the policy or measure

The settlement: After leaving the accommodation centre, refugees, who are often tired, stressed out and have a low self-esteem due to the long and difficult journey they had to take, also have to face several obstacles Convivial offers different specialised and complementary services to help refugees settle down: – find confidence – find a direction – identify one’s needs – housing – food – clothes – understand the administrative system

Integration: Once settled, refugees can start to think about their future, more precisely, their social and professional future. It is therefore necessary to know the customs and practices of the day-to-day and professional life in Belgium. Convivial offers both personalised and collective guidance, focused on citizenship with a long-term vision: – (self-)assessment – training – drafting of a socio-professional project – starting to achieve that project

Raising awareness: Asylum seekers and refugees often have to face prejudice from the general public because of a lack of information and awareness on their journey, the reasons behind their arrival in the country and the difficulties they will have to face. In order to raise awareness in a useful way and to promote living together, Convivial offers an information and awareness programme that includes: – an educational programme on asylum and the reality refugees face in Belgium – meetings between Belgians and refugees

Housing: The housing service aims at helping refugees to find sustainable, decent and affordable housing. Accommodation is the first step towards a successful integration and refugees’ new life in Belgium. It is also the first obstacle they have to face when leaving the accommodation centre. The housing service offers to refugees an array of services that allow them to find accommodation and to manage it with due diligence: – Looking for housing solutions: explain to refugees how to look for housing, which steps are to be taken, and accompanying the most vulnerable in their research – Information on housing: give information to refugees on their and the owner’s rights and obligations (signature of the contract, paying of the rent and expenses), on the way to live in and maintain the place, to save energy and to ensure home security – Mediation: in case of conflict, Convivial acts as mediator between the refugee and the owner – Transitional housing: Convivial puts transitional housing at the disposal of isolated and vulnerable refugees for a short period of time so that they have more time to take the administrative steps to find an accommodation and integrate better in Belgium.

Convivial puts in place a number of strategies and tools to build a relationship of understanding and trust between owner and tenant. Refugees are informed of their rights and obligations as tenants and are accompanied by Convivial in the management of their accommodation. The owners can also ask Convivial for help at any time during the renting contract.

Throughout the years, Convivial set up a list of ‘clever’ owners who, happy with the services of the association, reserve their properties to refugees on a regular basis. Thanks to them, throughout the last 10 years, Convivial managed to help 4700 refugees find accommodation.

Today, in order to answer the increasing demand of refugees looking for housing, Convivial launched a campaign called ‘become a clever owner’ aiming at encouraging owners to collaborate with Convivial and become a ‘clever’ owner.


Links to the website, background information and assessment material



Title of the policy or measure: Finnish strategy for the reception system for asylum seekers 2020 – strategy as a practice

Keywords: Refugees, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and asylum seekers


National labour market/social context

Finland is facing an increasing number of persons applying for asylum. The reception system must work towards common goals, following shared practices and basic principles. Unifying principles are in strategy and in national legislation, which are put on practice by Finnish Immigration Service with practical guidelines and instructions given to reception centres.

Strategy: Good treatment and well-functioning reception services promote and maintain the health and well-being of asylum seekers (also term: clients) and give prerequisite for later stage integration to labour markets. Mission is to provide humane treatment, accommodation and functional reception services for all asylum seekers. Key strategic goal is that all the reception centres provide services that enhance and maintain the well-being of asylum seekers as well as their ability to take action and initiative. The services aim to give asylum seekers skills to cope independently, also after the asylum process, and to prevent social exclusion.


Key challenges

Influx of asylum seekers (2014: 3651 and 2015: 32476) and increase of amount of reception centres (2014: 24 and 2015: 215). In 2016 amount of new asylum have dramatically slowed down, so reception centres are shut down. Lack of stability which is natural feature, is also a challenge for implementation.


Aims and objectives of the policy or measure

The aim is to guarantee equal treatment and a good quality of reception services across the whole country and to ensure a functioning collaboration between all relevant authorities. The clients are treated with dignity, and functional and uniform services are provided in all reception centres.

The clients are equipped with skills to cope after the asylum process. The reception services enhance the wellbeing of the clients as well as their ability to cope in everyday life and to take initiative. Clients have knowledge concerning labour markets and they do not end up in the situations of labour related discrimination and human trafficking.


Main activities/actions underpinning the policy or measure

The main action is to ensure that the reception system maintains social security, treats all asylum seekers humanely and provides accommodation for all asylum seekers. Well-functioning reception services promote and maintain the health and well-being of asylum seekers, and their ability to act.

Every reception centre provides: 1. information training to clients concerning the Finnish society (inc. labour markets; rights and duties) and 2. practical work and study activities purpose of promoting the selfinitiative, skills and agency under Finnish Immigration Service steering.


Contact details

Olli Snellman, Head of Section, Reception Unit, Finnish Immigration Service,


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