Difficulties encountered and shortcomings identified by the actors

From the perspective of the COS project team

The first difficulty encountered was the fact that this project was being held during a period of restrictions due to COVID. This was a difficulty on two counts:


  • Firstly, because the project was focused on relationships (between IPCs, partners, employers, peer helpers, refugees): it required meetings, links and moments of sharing to enhance the value of refugees. The actors interviewed pointed out that other meetings could have taken place if the meetings and culinary sharing had been more feasible. Some of them were held by video-conference, which made it more difficult to develop links, especially those that can be formed during meetings around catering events.
    • « We were limited, we could have invited more people, had an event that highlighted the routes.
    • « It was meant to bring people together, to make them meet, and there was a lack of moments for meeting and sharing: it lacked warmth.
  • Moreover, the starting point was the project of the refugees concerned and not the pre-definition of the professional sector targeted by the integration counsellors or employers: the projects of the refugees concerned were centred on the restaurant sector, at a time when this sector was particularly affected by legal restrictions. It was difficult to mobilise the network of restaurant owners.

The second type of difficulty encountered was the organisation in terms of timetables between the different professions and implications of the actors: the integration counsellors intervened during the salaried hours, which did not always allow the other actors (volunteer peer helpers) to participate in all the times of the project. This may have led to some discrepancies in the proper communication of information, the feeling that not everyone was moving at the same pace or was involved in different ways within the project team.

« We had a hard time getting back on track with some people » (one IPC)

« I couldn’t come every time » (a partner and a refugee)


Some felt that some peer helpers may have found it difficult to understand their role, not having been included in the thinking from the outset (with the project team itself discovering the concepts and questioning the roles of the peer helper) or having a short explanation time. This may have led to a lack of clarity, including for the refugees.

« Some refugees found it difficult to understand what the project could do for them at first.


In addition, another difficulty was cited: the investment required of the team and the change in working method and posture (moving to collective workshops, recurring times dedicated to the project, etc.). The question of the time spent on the project and the transversal working method, with time spent on the project being

This new approach, which is based on a « project » approach, has required the mobilisation of a new way of working.


« The project was ambitious, we were not able to deploy all the strategy we wanted at the beginning (covid and obstacles to meetings, internal changes...)“

The assessment of the collective sessions bringing together IPCs-refugees-peers-helpers-partners, carried out as a team, pointed out several weaknesses:

  • Passive attitude of refugees in the first two days
  • The issue of language level which makes some exchanges difficult.
  • The non-opening of the training entry at this period to the kitchen
  • Too many entrepreneurial peer helpers and not enough employed peer helper profiles.

Finally, the team regretted not having interviewed the refugees about the assessment (which was done with the partners and peer helpers), and only 2 refugees could be interviewed for this report.

From the partners' point of view

Creation of an Addiction Users-Peers and Addiction Professionals Working Group

The partners interviewed mention difficulties in communication and linkage: a lack of

of information on developments, the feeling of not having understood or followed everything.


« If we had a little memo every week or a little communication, it would have kept us connected.“

« I’m not sure how it turned out in the end for the refugees.”

« I came to a rendition but I kind of wondered what I was doing there.“

« I had a little bit of an interrupted vision, I wasn’t there all the time.“

« As we are different actors, we don’t work together, maybe this link is missing.“

« I miss knowing how far they’ve gone… I know because I went to get the information, but peer helpers really need to be kept up to date on the progress of the project.”

« The fact that it is very spread out over time, you forget.“


Also mentioned are:

–        A lack of time on the project

« We didn’t have time to talk about all the trades.

–        Language difficulty


« there was technical vocabulary

« Even if the language problems have been taken into account, it is still complicated.

« Some interpreters lacked objectivity

« It’s the first thing, you can’t do otherwise; I have a mixed opinion about « working without talking », it’s true that it also helps. But to work is complicated: we manage to do it but at what cost? We didn’t find any solution apart from ‘google translation’, it produced stress, misunderstandings and misinterpretations, the person was not autonomous.


–        The refugees’ lack of confidence to speak up in a group (« they put the speakers on a pedestal »).


Another difficulty was pointed out by a partner during the assessment of the collective sessions:


  • as partners there is a lack of awareness of the refugees’ projects:


« Maybe making portraits of the refugees beforehand would help us to better target their project? »

« It might have been nice to have a file to evaluate the project.

« The projects were not advanced enough.


It was also mentioned that contact was not maintained between peer helper, partner and refugee.

From the perspective of peer helpers

The difficulty mentioned is the lack of adequacy between the refugee’s project and the peer helper’s experience (peer helpers who can talk about an experience of creation, of taking risks to set up a business where some refugees just wanted to find a job in a kitchen).

The lack of communication about the project is also regretted:

« I got a certificate, but did it help what I brought? »

In addition, during the assessment of the collective sessions, several criticisms are made:

    • Too long a presentation of the general project
    • A lack of clarity of purpose,

    • Lack of « representativeness », of participation of newcomers: there was an expectation that they should present their projects, that they should express themselves more « what role do newcomers play? they are not heard enough« . We don’t hear them enough ». « The group was passive« .
    • A feeling of confusion about the role of peer carer: is it linked to the background? to the status? »(e.g. employer); the refugees may have only seen the administrative side of the »(which may have been part of the reason for the passivity and pedestalization)
    • Technical innovations would have been appreciated to encourage participation (video conferences, microphone in the room…)

From the refugees' perspective

The difficulties that emerge from the interviews are:


  • Mainly that of remuneration and the need to work and obtain resources in the short term.
  • One of the refugees interviewed said that he had no difficulties. He chose to change his project after receiving the information because the course seemed too complex and long at a time when he needed to increase his income for family reasons. He was initially thinking of an 8-month training course, but learned that it would take 2 years. At the time of the interview to collect his views he was finally working in construction.
  • Another refugee interviewee mentions the difficulty of getting a job. He regrets not having found a better paid job, not having been helped more to find a job. At the time of the interview, he had just stopped working for the integration company that had trained him (in catering, which he liked very much), because his income was not enough to cover his expenses and a debt linked to an overpayment from Pôle Emploi. He worked as a temp to pay off the excess, while keeping the plan to return to the restaurant business later« When I can« .
  • Lack of retained contacts

« I have not kept in touch with the other people in the project, there is a lack of communication.