The ERRIN network offers a hub for collaboration. Members work together to explore innovative approaches to return and reintegration, and to improve understanding of return dynamics. One important area of exchange is return counselling. To this end, an operational learning cycle on return counselling has been established with the aim of facilitating exchange and pooling of ideas, and developing practical tools to support counsellors in the day-to-day work.
During the first phase of the programme, ERRIN facilitated the cycle through field visits and peer-to-peer exchange among practitioners, designed to stimulate self-learning among return counsellors and enhance counselling practices. Participants were return counsellors nominated by the European Partner Institutions (EPIs), with representatives of governmental and non-government organisations. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA/Frontex) participated as an observer.
The thematic focus of these visits varied according to the types of settings and structures in which a counselling meeting can take place. Three visits took place:
- The Netherlands: counselling in semi-closed and closed structures (organised together with Repatriation & Departure Service – R&DS -of the Netherland Ministry of Justice and Security);
- Germany: counselling in open reception structures (organised together with the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees – BAMF – and the City of Munich);
- Belgium: counselling to irregular migrants staying outside reception structures (organised jointly with the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers -Fedasil).
As a result of the meetings and peer-to-peer exchange, a practical manual on return counselling was developed.