Symbiosis – School of Political Studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network, implements in Greece the project ASAP: Accessing services, Sharing Approaches and Practices. The project is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, and the implementation began in 2022.
ASAP aims at supporting local service providers and CSOs in 6 European countries (Austria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain) in the implementation of effective and replicable practices which can respond to migrants’ needs in the sectors of employment, housing, education and health.
The ASAP project directly contributes to the implementation of European integration priorities, from enhancing capacities, resources and expertise to ensuring that all migrants have safe access to basic services.
From 2014, the rapid increase in arrivals of migrants and refugees brought to light previously existing deficits and accentuated the structural limitations of local public capacities to provide a migrant-inclusive access to basic services. The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of migrants with limited access to social protection and highlighted barriers in access to public health information. Faced with many urgent and unprecedented challenges, many local authorities took social and economic emergency measures that left out migrants, who lacked information and support to access the new measures.
Reaching the most vulnerable groups remains challenging: social isolation is one of the main issues facing migrant women, together with low skills in host-country language and intersecting forms of discrimination.
Public services and civil society organisations (CSOs) play a crucial role in facilitating access to services, as they can implement complementary tasks: public service providers should deliver appropriate, culturally, linguistically and gender-responsive services and information, while local CSOs are able to communicate well with migrants and have capacities to engage with their communities. A strong collaboration between local authorities and CSOs can lead to broad and complementary responses to integration challenges, capable of catering for the service needs of vulnerable groups while enhancing social cohesion in their communities.