At the beginning the objective was ambitious: to facilitate the professional integration of refugees through peer support. The idea was to work with refugees who had already been through the integration system, using their experience to help newly arrived refugees.
The team also reflected on the opportunities created by this project and the possible contributions of peer support:
The team consisted of six professionals from the COS Foundation who worked on the project part-time:
As the reflection process progressed, several partners were mobilised:
The INFA is a foundation recognised as being of public utility whose mission is professional training. It offers training in the following fields: hotel and catering/tourism, leisure, events/social, health, animation/digital arts, support, orientation.
Bastien Pouzou, in charge of development at the INFA Foundation, was asked to act as a « training expert », and he presented the different existing training courses.
Envol 33 is an approved company for integration through economic activity. Its mission is to promote access to and return to employment for people in difficulty in the Gironde region by working in the catering industry. It employs 12 permanent employees and 18 employees on integration programmes.
Vincent Balzamo, who was asked to act as a « training expert », came in to share his expertise and skills in the field of training for the restaurant industry. He also had knowledge of a network of restaurant owners and the world of integration through economic activity and entrepreneurship. He was also an employer in the integration enterprise of several refugees involved in this project.
Refugee Food is a global project run by an association, which aims to raise awareness of the
the situation of refugees, to accelerate the professional integration of refugees in the catering industry, and
The aim of the project is to « work towards tasty, fair and sustainable food for all« . Initially a culinary festival born in 2016, the project has broadly diversified to become a global project responding to the various issues of reception and integration in France. Today, it brings together a salaried team and numerous volunteers throughout France.
Sandrine Rivoltela was asked to be an « initiative nugget »: she was the volunteer organiser of the refugee food festival in Bordeaux and co-founder of the Marie Curry project1 . She has a network of restaurant owners who are aware of the need to welcome and develop the skills of refugees, and has provided long-term support to participating refugees in their professional integration process. She herself has experience in pastry-making.
The University of Bordeaux, which was involved in the overall European project, provided support: the team used the monitoring and evaluation tools (logbook) proposed by Isabelle Rigoni, lecturer in sociology at the INSHEA and associate researcher at the Centre Emile Durkheim at the University of Bordeaux.
5 peer helpers2 , former refugees, some already entrepreneurs, others not, were asked to participate:
restaurant « Chez Anna » in Eysines. Anna is a dynamic person with lots of projects and
She has a rich intercultural experience and a journey of integration in France after a journey of exile and asylum. Humanist and generous, she helps other exiles in a volunteer group. She values her culture and the cultures of others through artistic expression and cooking, a source of sharing and conviviality.
Muhammadin Nazari, a refugee of Afghan origin, works as a team leader in a street food restaurant. He has plans to open his own restaurant. He volunteers with various refugees to help them in their journey and to learn about the host country environment. Muhammadin participated in the Food Refugee Festival on the 2020 edition at Garage Moderne. He is a passionate cook who likes to give pleasure by sharing his culinary traditions.
Iyad Kallas, a refugee of Syrian origin, has been involved in various activities for several years (radio, participation in cultural events, Jamira project to support musicians in exile…. ) he opens his catering restaurant in Bordeaux and makes us discover the flavours of his country of origin. Committed, militant, humanist, he has been supporting new arrivals for a long time!
Narine Lalayan, passionate about pastry, is of Armenian origin. She participated in the Food Refugee Festival, in the European ERASMUS KusKus programme, she sold dishes on the markets in Talence in association with another cook, she has experience and she wants to start her own business!
Mahshid Mirghazanfari, a refugee of Iranian origin, was an air hostess in her country of origin. Unable to work here, she has held various positions in restaurants, and is now in charge of a restaurant. She is also a volunteer with the COS solidarity centre, thanks to her language skills. Dynamic, curious and with a taste for others, she would like to open her own tea room!
The action took place in three phases:
The action took place in three phases:
In parallel, COS conducted a dynamic workshop with COS teams on the issue of peer support and a questionnaire for refugee peer supporters to gather their views and experiences on the issue.
Group work with the job placement officers then made it possible to draw up a timetable for the project and to target potential partners in the catering/hospitality sector, chosen in the light of the various professional projects of the newcomers and the fairly high demand for guidance in this sector.
Finally, various meetings were held to explain the project and to recruit the expectations of each person, the
projections and possibilities for involvement in the project.
Thus from August to December 2020, the team worked on :
Identify peer helpers (interviews on their background, their specificities, the experience they can share).
Identify refugees who could participate in the project (10 were interested. They were not selected on the basis of language level).
Identify possible partners (training, employers) in the catering/hospitality field, chosen in the light of the various professional projects of the new arrivals and a fairly high demand for guidance in the trades in this field.
Preparing group sessions for newcomer refugees.
On 4 December 2020, a time of reflexivity was organised within the COS Foundation team to evaluate the pathway, based on the tool proposed by the University researcher in the framework of the overall project.
The second phase, from January to April 2021, is the phase of meetings and inclusion in the community
professional in the catering industry.
Three specific days were dedicated to the exchange of partners/CIPs/peer helpers/refugees:
– Three 2-hour sessions, involving 10 refugees, 4 IPCs, 5 peer helpers, 4 partners (training, employer) and interpreters.
– The selected refugees all had a project around cooking/restauranting.
– The objectives of the workshops were to :
These workshops were designed to present and discuss
– The jobs4 in the catering and hotel industry and their specificities: necessary training, hours, constraints, required qualities, remuneration, needs of the territory, tasks and typical day…
– Valuation of one’s career path.
– Rights and duties in labour law.
– The business world (apprenticeship, sandwich courses, IAE, private, public, etc.)
– Pitfalls to avoid, possible obstacles and levers.
– Setting up a business.
The peer helpers received a certificate of participation from the COS Foundation.