The "RegioStars" awards promote the exchange of experiences and good practices among the regions of Europe as a way to promote innovation. They are convened annually in order to identify and reward those regional development projects financed by the EU's regional policy. The awards highlight the original and innovative projects that can inspire other regions in areas as diverse as the innovation of SMEs, the bioeconomy and sustainable urban transport.
These awards are given each year during the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels. Four days during which the best practices and specialized knowledge on regional and urban development in the 28 member countries of the European Union are promoted, as well as the evolution of the EU's cohesion policy.
It is the second consecutive year that SEF gets one of these awards. This year, 2018, was in the category of migratory challenges. Last edition, Murcia was recognized for its project of labor insertion of women victims of sexist violence.
The project "Protocol of integration in the labor market and social inclusion of refugees in the Region of Murcia", called "Integra" project, was launched a year ago, the same World Refugee Day, on June 20, 2017. This agreement was signed between the regional government and four NGOs: ACCEM, Cepaim, Red Cross and Murcia Acoge. Its objective is to offer an effective response to the new migration drama and to try to facilitate a sustainable integration in the society of applicants for international protection in the region of Murcia.
The initial priority is to respond to the basic needs of the person and their family, establishing a welcome intervention. "Then we move on to the labor and social integration phase, to provide the refugee with the resources, training and support needed to achieve a sufficient degree of action. At this stage, they receive job counseling, training (including basic Spanish), the development of personal skills to be able to join work experience programs, help for self-employment, transportation aids to attend training courses, etc. Finally, once the person has acquired sufficient training, they are ready for an active job search using public resources and services."
The project emphasizes the interconnection between different professional teams that work as a single window, the profiling and adjustment of the measures to the individual, trying to shorten the gaps between the phases or training people in key skills. This year the protocol has helped 845 refugees from 52 different nationalities, thanks to European social funding.
Javier Celdrán Lorente, Counselor of Universities, Companies and the Environment of the Region of Murcia, affirmed that "the impeccable example has to be done every day". Although the protocol has been recognized with this award, from Murcia they want it to work much better and therefore, they ask for advice and ideas from the refugees themselves.
María Ángeles Rodríguez Prats, Deputy Director of SEF, confesses that for this project with the refugees they have been inspired by ways of working that they applied in their previous awarded project, like having a common methodology, "we learned that processes must be reduced, forces must be spread out, where everyone has their role and the different administrations have to collaborate to facilitate the process to the people affected. "Severa González López, General Director of SEF stressed" the most important thing is that NGOs are not alone ".
An exciting awards gala within the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, where when delivering this award, they connected live with Murcia, where Mohamad Tarek Gellawi, one of the refugees from Syria, told his personal experience with this initiative with which he has been able to learn Spanish and find a job. "My whole family is very grateful to Murcia and I hope that one day, my son will know everything they have done for us."