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Bridges and footbridges

The debate "Bridges and footbridges: the role of local government and local communities in the adaptation of foreigners" within the framework of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM), was held on 13 March in Warsaw.

In recent years, Poland has become a destination country for an increasing number of migrants. Along with the influx of foreigners, valuable initiatives are created that facilitate their adaptation to the Polish society. Many of them are locally-based. The "footbridges" in the title are small-scale initiatives taken at the local level by local governments and various organisations. These bridges have a chance to become permanent and solid "bridges" in the future, provided they are supported by central entities and co-financed with public funds.

Initiatives presented during the debate, such as leading information points, organising cultural activities and social campaigns, are aimed at both migrants and members of the host society. Thanks to such actions, foreigners identify more closely with their new home, take up employment and start families, which benefits both them and countries that host them.

During the first panel of the debate, we considered whether and when it can be recognised from the point of view of local governments, migrants and local communities that the adaptation process has been completed. We tried to answer questions about what integration is, what kinds of integration there are and how to integrate different social groups. 

During the second panel we also talked about the activities and practices undertaken in this area and exchange experiences in undertaking adaptation activities at the local level.