Towards systematic approach in integration: city strategies in Poland
Although the social diversity of cities and towns increases due to migration processes, the share of people with granted refugee or subsidiary protection in Poland remains low.
This is one of the reasons why local governments do not consider the integration of recognized refugees as a priority but, rather, incorporate it into mainstream policies intended to enhance diversity, integration and inclusiveness among local residents. The burden of task-oriented programs and direct assistance remains on civic organizations. Only a few problem-oriented programs mention recognized refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection as target groups. The City of Warsaw is currently elaborating its program of municipal housing policy #Mieszkania2030. The program aims to eliminate the risk of homelessness among vulnerable groups, including BIPs. Although limited in scope, Lublin, Warsaw and Gdańsk provide housing assistance specifically addressed to recognized refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection within a sheltered housing city scheme. For one year, the City of Warsaw has been providing five apartments, while Lublin and Gdańsk have been providing three and two sheltered apartments, respectively. The improvement of educational programs, language courses and orientation programs are mentioned as operational goals in the Wrocław Strategy for Intercultural Dialogue for 2018- 2022. Reinforcing attitudes of openness to diversity and, at the same time, building up a sense of belonging, are among the goals found in Warsaw’s Community Program (Program Wspólnota). The Program responds to the operational goals of the #Warsaw2030 Strategy of empowering local communities and increasing dialogue and cooperation among residents with different backgrounds.
One of examples of a systematic approach towards integration is the program “Standard minimum in Integration” - a roadmap for integration policy adopted by the local governments in the Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area. The first-in-Poland document, the Standard Minimum in Integration, and the more detailed Guide to Integration in Pomerania were announced in May 2020 involving 56 local governments in the Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot metropolitan area. These documents include a four-step strategy for public institutions involved in the multi-dimensional integration of migrants. Although the document does not target refugees directly, it should be mentioned as an example of good practice as a complex, long-term and multidimensional strategy on integration. It is expected to have a positive effect on all migrant groups in the region. The strategy covers dimensions such as vocational training, access to legal assistance and Polish language courses, as well as issues such as security, training for officials who provide services and assistance and the creation of poviat migration units to monitor issues related to the adaptation and settlement of migrants in the area