The first project approved under the ERRIN facility, Reach Out, has been looking at ways of improving outreach to people on the move in urban settings. The first phase of the project was officially concluded in April 2021, with Reach Out 2.0. officially launching right afterwards.
Return counselling is more than just informing a migrant about the options for return. It is about engaging in dialogue with a person, supporting their decision-making and trying to solve any obstacles they face throughout this process. Information and counselling are key aspects of the return process. Migrants can only opt for return if they are aware that such an option exists – and if they know how to access it.
Living outside official reception structures in irregular and often precarious situations comes at a high personal cost in terms of an individual’s wellbeing; simultaneously, it can also pose a challenge to the social fabric of local communities. The underlying idea of the project is that outreach is an indispensable first step to address these conditions.
Leveraging the existing resources and knowledge of EUROCITIES and OFII, with Fedasil (the Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) as lead partner, Reach Out brought together local authorities from different countries. The transnational community of practice, involving six European cities and numerous grassroots organisations, worked together to map existing practices on counselling and return at the local level, and develop a “blueprint” for a comprehensive outreach method targeting “unreachable” groups. You can read about the results of their efforts on this page.
Fedasil and OFII also jointly deployed a multinational outreach team who has been approaching undocumented migrants to raise their awareness about the social services immediately available and the long-term legal options, including the possibility of voluntary return. The team is currently operating in Brussels, Calais and Grande-Synthe (Dunkirk).
Building on the achievements to date, the Reach Out team is now working towards:
- expanding the network of frontline workers;
- consolidating and deepening the practices harvested on the ground;
- developing a new digital outreach tool facilitating outreach to the specific target group;
- testing the outreach guide and model for micro-counselling.
Take a look at the project info sheet to learn more – and see the outcomes of the first phase of the project in the features linked below.