UNITEE joins the European Week of Regions and Cities

Image source: European Week of Regions and Cities 2022 (see use guidelines here)

Young migrants as agents of change: Stories of participation and inclusion

#EURegionsWeek Workshop

As part of this year’s European Week of Regions and Cities, UNITEE, in collaboration with INTEGRIM Lab and Eurocities, partners of the MILE and UNITES projects, hosted an online workshop titled “Young migrants and cities – new pathways for local participation and inclusion” with around 50 participants. The event focused on shaping narratives around the movement, local inclusion and participation of young newcomers in Europe and featured stories of migration from Razan Ismail (Asociación Kudwa), JuanFra Alvarado Valenzuela (University of Amsterdam of Applied Sciences) and Bohdan Yeromenko (Promote Ukraine).

The session was recorded, you can watch it here. In additon, the session was illustrated by Blanche Ellis, creating a graphic recording. You can see the graphic recording here.

In their accounts,  Bohdan, Razan and JuanFra reflected on some of the challenges they faced when settling in Europe as young migrants as well as the opportunities, support and lasting connections they found as they started studies or jobs, started their own initiatives and businesses. Together with Elisabeth Ries, City Councillor for Youth, Family and Social Affairs at the City of Nuremberg in Germany and the workshop participants, they exchanged their visions of inclusive cities. Moreover, they discussed the potential of young migrants and agents of change, innovation, development and social cohesion.

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Ries shared the experience and approach of Nuremberg, a city that has a long history of migration and integration and where local governmental bodies are working to support migrants and meet their needs in local decision-making.

We are trying to create our city’s policies so that they are inclusive for everyone. In Nuremberg, two-thirds of young people have some sort of international background: parents or grandparents who migrated here.

Elisabeth Ries, City of Nuremberg

One key takeaway from the session was the need for two-way interactions between newcomers and long-term migrants. Newly arrived migrants and refugees can need a variety of support, ranging from administrative guidance to someone who can lend an ear in difficult times. To this end, cities could involve migrants who have already learned to navigate the city and are further along in their integration process, to support newcomers, share their experiences and help with things like language and cultural barriers. Not only can migrant communities support the integration of newcomers but also help long-term migrants to feel needed and connected in their cities as they are given the space to share their skills and experience with others.

It is very important to realise that you yourself can be helpful and have much to give others. You have skills, knowledge, and connections - please come and help us as a society to reach newcomers and help them in their integration.

- says Elisabeth Ries, addressing young migrants coming to Europe.

For Razan Ismail, founder and director of Asociación Kudwa in Spain, her experiences as a young migrant led her to do exactly what Elisabeth encourages. Originally from Syria and having worked in the UK before coming to Spain, Razan founded Kudwa in an effort to support in particular Arabic-speaking newcomers, especially women, who are starting their integration journey in Barcelona.

Having access to friendships with locals or with people who have the same objective as you - that can make a big difference.

Razan Ismail, Asociación Kudwa

Bohdan Yeromenko migrated several times within Europe: originally from Ukraine, he moved to Austria to work in technology before eventually ending up in Brussels working as an IT consultant. He now spends his free time volunteering for Promote Ukraine as an IT coordinator. Promote Ukraine works on advocating for Ukrainians in political, business and non-governmental circles in the EU. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the organisation has started initiatives supporting the integration of Ukrainians arriving in Belgium.

Meeting people who are facing similar problems will allow you to build a community, and it will help you learn tips and tricks on how to get through this difficult transition period.

Bohdan Yeromenko, Promote Ukraine

JuanFra Alvarado Valenzuela shared his story with workshop participants through a recorded video. Originally from Ecuador and now living in the Netherlands, he is a researcher and educator focusing on migration and diversity in entrepreneurship. He suggests universities should  take a critical look at how diverse their student body is and re-examine their entry requirements to allow more people with diverse backgrounds and lived migration experience to pursue their studies in Europe.

He also reminds young migrants to not be afraid to ask for help and to not forget to offer their help and share their experience and skills with others.

Young migrants have so many skills, so much knowledge, and so much experience on how the world is changing nowadays. This is very valuable, and this can be given to other people.

JuanFra Alvarado Valenzuela, University of Amsterdam of Applied Sciences

Cities, institutions, and authorities also have a role to play in creating platforms to allow for this exchange of support. Aside from offering physical spaces for meetings, cities can foster interactions by utilising technological advancements, for instance by setting up Facebook or Whatsapp groups and thus bringing together newcomers and long-term migrants. Decentralising support this way can lower the pressure on municipalities and cities, which may have limited capacities and struggle to offer certain types of support, services, or spaces. A further point raised during the workshop is the lack of diversity in their decision-making bodies of many municipalities.

Newcomers, long-term migrants, and cities all have a role to play in the successful integration of young migrants. If they all do their share of the work, the integration process can be smoother and more successful, leading to a more cohesive and diverse Europe.

The European Week of Regions and Cities has been the yearly hub of EU cohesion policy for the past 19 years. In 2022, the event took place from 10-13 October, and it was organised in a hybrid format: it combined physical networking and Q&A sessions with online presentations. The themes of this year’s event were more relevant than ever, centering around the topics of the green transition, territorial cohesion, digital transition, and youth empowerment.

The session was illustrated by Blanche Ellis, creating a graphic recording. You can see the graphic recording here.

UNITEE, Eurocities and INTEGRIM Lab are part of the MILE project, an initiative funded by the EU which works towards promoting collaboration between migrant communities and local policy-makers. Read more about the MILE project here.

Eurocities and UNITEE are also part of the UNITES project, funded by the EU and aiming to advance the involvement of migrants in integration policies.

Did you miss our session?

Background Brief: UNITES Project – UrbaN InTEgration Strategies through co-design

Led by Eurocities, UNITES – UrbaN InTEgration Strategies through co-design – trains and accompanies local authorities to co-design integration strategies with other stakeholders and migrants.

UNITES aims to:

  • improve integration outcomes by co-designing integration strategies with stakeholders, citizens and vulnerable migrants
  • train integration practitioners in managing co-design processes through different forms of learning and exchange of good practices
  • foster the participation of citizens, including migrants but also vulnerable migrants in the co-design of integration strategy
  • raise awareness of the advantages of a “whole of society approach” to integration.

The project’s first stage is developing training on co-designing integration strategies, incorporating research on best practices across Europe. A pilot version of the training will be conducted with staff from the 8 cities participating in the project. The training will then be developed into an open access online course (MOOC) for integration practitioners outside the project.

In the second stage, the 8 city partners receive a €20,000 grant to set up a new mechanism for stakeholder consultation and develop their local integration strategy through co-design with stakeholders and migrants. In planning and implementing their actions, they will receive guidance from colleagues from other cities and migrant organisations in peer workshops and peer visits to each city.

Background Brief: RIDE Project – Reach Inclusion Through Digital Empowerment For Migrant Women


RIDE is a 2-year project co-funded by the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), looking to advance the inclusion of migrant and refugee women in the digital labour market in five EU countries. The tools of the project include specially designed training courses, mentoring, job fairs and networking opportunities to give migrant and refugee women the possibility to re-skill or upskill and find jobs in the digital sector.


Background Brief: MILE Project – Migrant Integration through Locally designed Experiences

MILE stands for Migrant Integration through Locally designed Experiences and is about empowering the local community as a whole, including migrant communities. MILE is a two-year project co-funded through the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and involves partners in six European countries: Belgium, Greece, Latvia, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK.

MILE is based on the idea that policy-making – especially at the local level – should be a co-creation process that reflects the diverse population of cities and gives migrants a say. By involving municipalities, migrant groups, and research teams across Europe, MILE aims to empower migrants and refugees and help to build lasting connections between migrant groups and local governments in Europe.

For this, MILE will produce research-based and locally-tailored responses that can address the current needs and priorities of municipalities and migrant communities. The participation tools developed by partnering research teams, municipalities, and migrant-led organisations aim to serve as a springboard for deeper social, economic, and political inclusion in the long term.

Conference on the Socio-Economic Integration of Migrant Women

Unitee will participate in the conference held by The European Network of Migrant Women at the European Social and Economic Committee about the socio-economic integration of migrant women. This is the final conference of the project Smart Volunteering for Female Migrants a multiagency cooperation project, between civil society, business community and highly skilled migrant women in five European states.

For registration click here

EMEN 2nd ANNUAL EVENT: Innovative financing solutions for migrant entrepreneurs? Cross your own borders!

On the 20th of June 2019, UNITEE will be participating to the 2nd annual event of the EMEN – EUROPEAN MIGRANT ENTREPRENEURSHIP NETWORK (EMEN) project.

An event without long speeches instead brief, thought provoking talks, a thriving market where innovations are shown, pitches, interactive workshops, debates, and inspiring encounters. With others exploring how best access to finance for migrant entrepreneurs can be ensured.

The 20th June, at the premises of the Hague University of Applied Sciences, in the Hague you have the chance to meet others who might inspire you, or with whom you want to cooperate. Or just listen and reflect.

The Conference will try to give some answers to questions such as:

Are starting migrant entrepreneurs really that different from native entrepreneurs (or entrepreneurs without a migrant background)? Do we need to treat them as a special target group? Do we have to set up special schemes to finance their new businesses? Businesses that for sure will be helpful to them to participate in society, to break out of exclusion, to add value to society. Or do they also have their own ways of mobilizing finance?

We are creating a space to meet, talk, converse, investigate and discuss:

how migrant entrepreneurs might finance their new ventures
how they can make use of existing formal and informal financing mechanisms
how they can make use of mainstream facilities
how special mechanisms might be relevant, needed and desirable.
how start-up programmes can support migrants in finding finance
A place to build up new networks as well!

Unitee at the first European Summit of Refugees and Migrants, 4-6th May 2019, Brussels

The European Summit of Refugees and Migrants took place from the 4th to the 6th of May 2019 in Brussels.

The event has been a priceless occasion for migrant and refugee advocates to meet and discuss current challenges and opportunities with other advocates and stakeholders and to coordinate efforts in their work.

The final day was specifically conceived to host a multi-stakeholder forum.  The aim of the day was to convene allies who could work with the refugee-led groups represented to make cross-sector commitments to improving the lives of refugees in Europe, and beyond.

The primary objective of this meeting is to convene migrant-led and refugee-led organizations and migrant/refugee change-makers from all Europe to gather and discuss their lived experiences and propose solutions for more effective and sustainable EU migration and refugee policy. The Summit is an opportunity for participants to

(i) Build a European coalition of refugee-led and migrant-led advocates capable of influencing EU agenda and decision-making on refugee and migrant policies

(ii) develop joint recommendations to improve EU policies on refugee/migration and agree on a road map of future activities including capacity development program of the advocates

The final product of the summit will be a policy paper to be presented later on in several official occasion on all the major policy platforms in Europe.

UNITEE participates in the 5th European Migration Forum, 3-4th April 2019

On 3rd and 4th April 2019, UNITEE participated in the 5th  European Migration Forum – the dialogue platform on migration, asylum and migrant integration – organized around the theme ” From global to local governance of migration. The role of local authorities and civil society in managing migration and ensuring safe and regular pathways to the EU”.

The EMF is a platform for dialogue between civil society and the European institutions, on issues relating to migration, asylum and the integration of third-country nationals. It brings together, at least once a year, representatives of civil society organisations, local and regional authorities, Member States and EU institutions.

The aim of the EMF is to enhance coordination and cooperation between key players involved in the multilevel European governance of migration. The EMF aims at providing more information on the latest policy developments but also to gather information on how European policies are implemented at regional, local and grass-root levels; it should help improve the understanding of the main challenges that civil society organisations and social partners face in the field and identify ways to better support them in their efforts to address migrants’ needs.

UNITEE’s President Adem Kumcu participated in the event as the new European member of the European Migration Forum Bureau.