Mentoring Program for Migrants
Type of Information
- Case studies
High Commission for Migrations, Public Institute (ACM, I.P.)
Ms. Bárbara Duque (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
The Mentoring Program for Migrants initiative consists of a national network of volunteers that act as mentors to migrants and refugees. The mentors provide guidance, orientation or information according to the needs of the mentees in areas such as qualifications, job search, entrepreneurship, health, parenting, citizenship and participation.
Mentoring managers from companies, organisations, institutions and municipalities across Portugal establish the contact between people who would otherwise not know each other. These mentoring relationships provide an experience of mutual aid between national citizens and migrants, while allowing common understanding and promoting volunteering and corporate social responsibility. As an example of intercultural and civic participation, the main goal of the initiative is to facilitate the integration of migrants in the hosting society through the involvement of nationals.
The Mentoring Program for Migrants started as a pilot project developed in partnership with the High Commission for Migration (ACM, IP) and the Group of Reflection and Support to Corporate Citizenship (GRACE), an organisation composed of companies that promote an important number of initiatives in corporate volunteering. The current 2nd phase of the project involves 58 partners that are located across Portugal and gathered under a national network of organisations that implement the program locally. As the coordinator of this network of partners, the High Commission for Migration provides access to the methodology and materials.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
Involving both the private sector (companies, NGOs, institutes), municipalities and the hosting society (volunteers), the basic assumptions of this project include:
- Corporate social responsibility;
- Integration as a dynamic, a two-way process of mutual accommodation;
- The commitment of the hosting society as a fundamental dimension in designing migrant integration policies.
In this context, the main goals of the project are to:
- Provide one additional instrument to promote the integration of migrants in Portugal;
- Provide orientation and support for refugees welcomed in Portugal;
- Remove barriers to integration and promote equality of opportunity;
- Remove preconceptions and create meeting points for newcomers and natives to promote personal, social and organisational enrichment;
- Help volunteers achieve a better understanding of the world and other groups of people;
- Promote voluntary work and corporate social responsibility.
How does it work
The project is divided in three dimensions of interventions:
- Communication and project dissemination
The partners disseminate the program in the local context using leaflets, radio spots, videos with testimonies and referrals to local partners from different services.
- Mentoring and matching
The process includes five steps to be followed by the mentors and mentees:
- In order to participate in the project, mentors and mentees send their applications through an online form. After registration, they are invited to an individual interview to verify their qualifications, motivations, expectations etc.
- Once accepted, mentors and mentees are matched according to the needs and profiles available on the database.
- Both parties get together to draft a commitment to carry out their duties. Volunteers, with their life experience, professional skills and active role in society, provide support, guidance and advice to migrants to achieve the established plan. During weekly meeting, they also provide access to their professional networks, offer advice on jobs application and interviews, employment culture and evaluate job possibilities.
- On a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis, communications are sent by the project management team to carry out intermediate evaluations and follow up on any doubts or questions both parties might have during the process.
- Finally, all processes are evaluated by mentors and mentees to determine whether or not the goals have been met. If not reached, they can redefine them, and both parties have the possibility to start a new process.
- Training and networking activities
In each local context, mentors and mentees have initial training for joint reflection on their respective roles and the preparation needed to fulfil it effectively. Networking activities are prepared across the country to enable the sharing of experiences. Furthermore, ACM provides training to facilitate the dynamics between partners of the network and to develop their competences in mentoring management. The training includes methodology, procedures, instruments etc.
The basis of the joint work is a Guide for Implementation. To deepen the reflection, a set of online training materials are also available. The tutorials include short videos as well as other materials and instruments. Both workshops and tutorials are divided in different modules under the following themes:
- How to communicate the project to participants and other potential partners;
- How to develop training workshops for participants (mentors and mentees) while acknowledging the theoretical assumptions and referent concepts;
- How to use the IT platform to manage mentoring processes.
The relationships established during the mentoring processes do not only contribute to the needs identified by migrant citizens, but also lead to a greater openness, a change of mentalities (from mentors and mentees) and contributes to an intercultural dialogue. The support areas are very diverse, but the most needed were entrepreneurship, qualifications and job seeking. During the pilot-project phase, the main result was the success of established relationships.
Concerning its impact, both parties define mentoring as a win-win relationship. Most of the mentees indicate that their conditions improved, as they consequentially felt more integrated and have a more positive image of the Portuguese society. Simultaneously, most of the mentors’ report that they have gained intercultural competences and a more positive image of immigrants.
The pilot-project in numbers:
- Mentoring processes (evaluated or ongoing): 32
- Registered mentors: 67
- Registered mentees (migrants): 124
The project team uses three separate evaluation forms: one for mentors, one for mentees and a third one for joint evaluation. In this last evaluation form, both parties reflect together on the mentoring process in terms of goals achievement. In the individual evaluations, they reflect on their own role and the role of partners and describe their perception of the impact of their participation in the project. Since this is a pilot project, one of the goals is to implement an evaluation model that allows assessing the social and human impact of the project and sharing recommendations with others.
Who will benefit?
The project is designed to mainly empower migrants, but it is also a way of raising awareness on intercultural dialogue through the relationships that are established during the mentoring processes, which is beneficial for both parties. As described by participants, it is a win-win experience for mentors and mentees.
Source of funding and Resources used
The pilot project was financed by the European Fund for the Integration of Third Countries Nationals (FEINPT) and by the companies associated to the project.
Presently, the partners implement the program by using the resources they already have in their organisations, which annually cost around 60.000,00 €. This includes human resources, materials and tools.