This initiative – integrated in the European Year of Citizens, 2013 – aims to create a network of corporate volunteers – mentors – available to provide guidance, orientation or information to immigrants – mentees – according to their needs in different areas (qualification and job search, entrepreneurship, health, parenting, citizenship and participation, among others). The staff establishes the contact between people who otherwise would never know each other. These mentoring relationships aim to provide an experience of mutual aid between national citizens and immigrants allowing common understanding – in which differences are rendered in the resolution of these day-to-day challenges – promoting volunteering and corporate social responsibility as well. As an example of intercultural and civic participation, the main goal is the integration of immigrants into society assuming this requires everyone’s involvement. This project results from a partnership between ACIDI, IP (High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue) and GRACE (Group of Reflection and Support to Corporate Citizenship), an organization composed by a group of companies that promote a huge number of initiatives in corporate volunteering.
Angelegenheit/Herausforderung und Ziele/Annahmen
Involving both private sector (companies) and the welcoming society itself (volunteers), the basic framing assumptions of this project are: Corporate social responsibility is a concept thought out by the companies which decide, on a volunteer basis, to contribute to a fair society. EC (2001), Green Book – Promote a European framework to corporate social responsibility.
Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States. EU (2004), CBP1 for Integration in the EU.
The commitment of the welcoming society is one of the fundamental dimensions that must frame the design of the immigrant integration policies. EC (2011), Draft European Modules on Migrant Integration.
The main goals are:
To provide another instrument to promote the integration of immigrants in Portugal.
To remove barriers to integration and promote equality of opportunity.
To remove preconceptions and create meeting points for newcomers and natives to promote personal, social and organizational enrichment;
To help the volunteers achieve a better understanding of the world and other groups of people.
To promote voluntary work and corporate social responsibility.
Wie funktioniert das?
The project is divided in three dimensions of intervention:
Communication and project dissemination: Immigrants have contact with the project when they come to visit the different services in the National Support Centre for Immigrants through the presentations sessions (twice a month), leaflets that explain the project and referral from the colleagues of the different services. The project is disseminated in all GRACE’s associate companies through email and then, if there is interest, we schedule an individual presentation in each company. We distribute the leaflets and then each one promotes internal communication to engage the workers. After this we perform new presentations directly to workers.
Mentoring and Matching:
1st step: In order to participate in the project, mentors and mentees fulfill a questionnaire and are then invited to an individual interview to get to know their qualifications, motivations expectations, etc.
2nd step: Included in the database, mentors and mentees are matched according to needs and profiles.
3rd step: After matching they get together to draft a commitment that both parties undertake to carry out their duties.The plan is established to achieve the wishes, dreams, needs, challenges of immigrant citizens. The volunteers, with their life experience, professional skills and more active role in society, provide support, guidance, advice to immigrants. They provide access to their professional networks, give advice on applying for jobs, interviews, employment culture, evaluation of job possibilities, and so on. Mentors and Mentees meet up once a week.
4th step: Monthly, bimonthly or quarterly communications are sent by the project manager team to carry out intermediate evaluations and follow up (or to answer any doubts they might have during the process).
5th step: In the end, all processes are evaluated by mentors and mentees and, then, whether the goals have not been met, they can be redefined, and they can decide if they will begin a new process.
Training and Network Activities: Mentors and mentees (separately) have initial training for joint reflection (on what is, after all, to be mentor / mentee) and to prepare them for this role. In addition, we would like the project to work as a network, there may be exchange of experiences and "talents". We will, in parallel, organize activities / workshops conducted by each other (belly dancing, Mandarin classes, stress management, communication ...).
The relationships established during the mentoring processes, not only contribute to the resolution of the needs identified by immigrant citizens, but also to a greater openness and changed mentalities (both from mentors and mentees) and thereby contribute to intercultural dialogue. More than the number of immigrants to succeed in questions during the mentoring process, the main expected result is the success of established relationships and learning that one and the other will gain from this experience.
The project in numbers, until now:
23 mentoring processes (evaluated or ongoing).
41 active mentors.
53 active immigrants.
"To be a mentor is not enough - it’s about having good will and wanting to help someone, especially this immigrant population. There are different cultures, different views, and different ambitions. It takes perseverance and, above all, believing that small actions and words at the right time can contribute to the success of this program.”
"Being a mentor is a huge challenge to both professional and emotional skills. I was lucky to meet a fantastic mentee that taught me that some simple things are, in fact, still very difficult for the immigrants.”
This is a pilot project so one of the goals is to implement an evaluation model that allows to assess the social and human impact of the project and share recommendations with others. The ‘results’ that we share below are ongoing considerations:
The implementation of the project constitutes a complementary model to welcome and integrate immigrants into the Portuguese society, concerning the strategies (mentoring relationships established) and to partners involved (private sector/companies).
The project has leveraged the civic participation: the companies and the corporate volunteers are engaged and really involved in this mission of welcoming and integrating immigrants – a mission they feel as their own.
This project is a new service, a new way of solving the issues and is available to all interested immigrants. It represents an alternative way from which they can take advantage.
Regarding the stories and testimonies, the participation in the project is a learning experience for both mentors and mentees. People meet in a win-win relationship based in respect, sharing, work and mutual engagement.
The training sessions are important learning moments that allow mentors and mentees be aware of each one’s role in the mentoring process.
The project is designed to solve the immigrants’ problems but, in fact, regarding the main goals it’s mostly a way of raising awareness on intercultural dialogue, both for mentors and mentees, through the relations that are establish during the mentoring processes. In 2013/2014 we expect to involve: 10 companies; 80 corporate volunteers (mentors); 150 immigrant citizens (mentees).
Finanzierungsart und benötigte Ressourcen
The project is financed by the European fund for the integration of third countries nationals (European Commission) – FEINPT and by the Companies associated to the project. Practice annual or total budget (EUR) – 35.000,00€ (approximately) Number and type of workers needed – 2 full-time project managers (one in each partner); 2 coordinators / responsible for each partner (approximately 3 hours per week)
High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue, Public Institute (ACIDI, I.P.) & GRACE
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