by Erika Irabor

In times like this, when Europe stands together to welcome immigrants from all over the world, our society depends on social support initiatives like never before. In 2021, about 144,000 so-called “sea arrivals” came to Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta, seeking hope, peace and new beginnings. Among those people, who give up their old lives to start fresh, are also children & young adults. In fact, the majority of refugees are women and young adults. Young people who lost everything come to Europe not knowing what they can actually expect.

And guess what:

Reality is painful. Especially for young adults.

Instead of expected new opportunities, many immigrants and asylum seekers face a bureaucratic storm of endless paperwork and required documents which oftentimes is a heavy entry barrier before starting a socially acceptable life. Instead of integration the result is isolation. Isolation from the normal social life which we as European citizens enjoy. The social inclusion process requires time and expertise from experienced people.

So the question that arises is: “Who is going to care for the immigrants”?

Well, there is hope!

Yes, there is hope in the midst of chaos. We have heard and seen the sad realities of refugees. At the same time, Europe’s hand is not too short to reach out for help.

Did you know that the European Union’s funds for Asylum & Migration (2021-2027) has increased by more than 6 billion Euros? According to the European Commission, “the fund amounts to €9.9 billion, compared to €3.137 billion over the previous 2014-2020 period.”

These figures speak for themselves. So, the possibility of help is clearly available.

One example of how the money is spent to help immigrants is a project called REGenerations.

Project ReGeneration: What it is and how it benefits European society

The Project Regenerations is a European founded initiative, which exists to strengthen the social inclusion process of young immigrants who arrived in Italy without family members or other related people. Together with Defence for Children International, the organization ARSIS from Greece and Punt de Referència from Catalonia, the project Re-Generation is  part of building social integration initiatives across Europe. It aims to support “third – country” nationals aged 18-21 through voluntary citizens engagement. Selected mentors are there to help the targeted audience in their integration process. Through the implementation of  a human rights based mentoring model the project impacts the youngsters lives in the following areas:

employment, education, social inclusion and active citizenship.

Altogether, project ReGeneration lasts 36 months, starting from the 1st of December 2018. Final results will be presented at the European Mentoring Summit in Leeuwarden (May 18-20) – as well as in Thessaloniki, Greece on May 13. The European mentoring Summit is Europe’s largest mentoring Summit bringing together mentoring practitioners, researchers and other experts who are sharing their knowledge and expertise about mentoring from different angles. And you are very welcome!

Now back to Project ReGeneratoin. The mentoring path which this project offers, has a minimum duration of six months  during which the relationship can be consolidated and become continuous over time. Until now many migrants have benefitted from the commitment of Italians who are willing to serve their community through mentorship. 

Change starts with a step. In the past we have seen many initiatives rising up in the mentoring community and still:  the field constantly grows and develops seeking new models to apply and offer better solutions than before.

This  project is one part of a bigger picture seeking to solve social issues which are birthed out of immigration.

Here are five shocking facts:

  • Young adults coming to Europe find themselves in a parallel world living in complete isolation and disconnection with others
  • Language barriers hinders the newcomers to enter the working market
  • Lack of documents hinders them to be part of a normal social life
  • Access to qualified training courses is almost impossible due to language barriers
  • While living in a local community young third country are oftentimes disconnected from normal social life

In light of these facts, Project REgeneration develops strategies to tackle societal issues seeking to overcome them by making use of the concept of mentorship. Thus, it benefits the society by providing a way out of the situation.

Project ReGeneration involved around 200 mentors and young “third country nationals” (18-21 years old) as well as EU stakeholders and local actors.

Mentoring migrants

Mentoring is a powerful tool to build the bridge between young refugees and European citizens.

Oftentimes, the social integration process lacks suitable application and expertise. As a result many people from third countries are forming a subculture. People who live in these self-created sub cultures might never get in touch with the social lives of Italians.

By applying social mentoring methods, these young adults from third world countries have the opportunity to get connected with a mentor who helps them to integrate in society.

And how does it work?

The involvement and support of members of civil society who become mentors, or points of reference for these young people and bridges between them and their community, becomes an important element of inclusion and enhancement of the skills, stories and experiences of these young people but also constitutes an element of discovery and growth for the citizenship itself.

All mentors involved are offering their help on a voluntary basis. To be a mentor, one has to be at least 30 years old and financially stable.

The mentoring actions involves the following four:

  1. CAPACITY BUILDING: through training and support sessions to mentors and mentees
  2. EXCHANGE through ACTIVE PARTICIPATION: in the framework of open thematic events designed by Organizational Committees involving young people and local community members
  3. INTER-AGENCY COOPERATION: through meetings with all the local actors involved in integration
  4. SUPERVISION AND TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE: through transnational and national study visits and EU events.

Final project presentation

If you are interested in the project results and want to know more about how social mentoring practices worked out in Italy you are welcome to join the final event which will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece, on May 13th 2022 from 10.00 to 16.00 EET. On the agenda the following points will be presented:

  • share the Re-Generations initiative results and lesson learned in the contexts of implementation with relevant stakeholders
  • present the “Memoir” of the initiative
  • share young people’s voice on their experience in mentoring within the Re-Generations initiative
  • collect participants’ feedback, recommendations and experiences that could enrich future mentoring programs, as the brand-new European initiative “RoAD”.

For further information you can click here

You can also come to the European Mentoring Summit in Leeuwarden, Netherlands which will take place between May 18-20 where you can choose your favorite workshop sessions, speakers and more.. 

Click here for all information.