The PROUD project (Promoting Supported Independent Living as an alternative care practice for unaccompanied minors) is a European project, funded by the AMIF Programme (Transnational actions for Integration of Third-Country Nationals in the EU Member States and supporting legal migration) for the 2019- 2021 period. The project is implemented in Greece, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
The coordinator of the PROUD project is METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development, a Greek NGO that launched the first Supported Independent Living (SIL) apartments in Greece in January 2018 and is currently running 26 such apartments. The project partners are Stichting Nidos in the Netherlands, with long experience in child protection and running SIL apartments, the Athens Lifelong Learning Institute and the Centre for European Constitutional Law in Greece, as well as other organisations who, among other activities, will increase their capacity and know-how to implement and reinforce the SIL model in their respective countries: Plan International in Germany, Apostoli in Greece, and Fundació Idea in Spain.
The PROUD project promotes SIL as an alternative care practice for unaccompanied minors, with a focus on minors aged between 15 and 18. SIL provides adolescents with housing, appropriate supervision, and access to a range of protection services. This model aims at giving unaccompanied children opportunities to develop their life skills and resilience, in order to support their transition to adulthood within the local community.
Good practices regarding this type of care are being collected, exchanged and disseminated, leading to the creation of a guide for the efficient provision of care to unaccompanied minors. The guide, after being tested by care and child protection professionals, evaluated through follow-up, and refined at the end of the project, will be disseminated widely, not only among the partners, but publicly to all interested professionals, organisations, and public authorities. A one-day conference at the end of the project in Athens will allow for its wider distribution.
In this framework, Stichting Nidos organised, on November 3rd & 4th, and on November 9th & 10th, two online trainings for child protection professionals. In total, seventeen (17) professionals from six countries (Greece, Germany, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy) participated in the transnational training, which focused on providing all necessary information (ways of setting up and running) related to Supported Independent Living, as well as on transmitting good practices and know-how. These 17 professionals, along with relevant stakeholders, will eventually provide both valuable comments on the contents and an overall evaluation on the Guide. They will also disseminate and implement these good practices in each of their countries, improving the support of minors across Europe.
The second key activity of the project is a mentoring scheme aimed at unaccompanied minors, with the goal to facilitate their integration process in their new communities, and ease their transition to adulthood. To this end, a mentoring protocol will be designed and implemented in Greece, Germany and Spain, partnering a mentor from the host community with an unaccompanied mentee, providing them with an adult they can turn to outside their care facilities.
Unaccompanied minors aged 15-18 are the final beneficiaries of the project, both by ultimately benefitting from professionals being trained, and by receiving support services for the development of specific career skills. Thus, the project is expected to have a high impact both in the short and long term. In the short term, 200 minors from 15 up to 18 years old are expected to benefit. In the long term, the project is expected to positively influence EU Member States towards adopting alternative care practices and offering different pathways which do not lead to institutionalization.