Cuidemos Centro programme

Madrid, Spain

A municipal training programme that employs migrants in the role of ‘Dynamizers’ to act as mediators between the local government authority and their respective communities to promote environmental awareness.

Cuidamos Centro (‘We Take Care of the Centro District’) is a training and employment programme for citizens at risk of exclusion from the labour market and the long term unemployed. In 2017, a team of formerly-excluded job seekers (including 4 migrants) were engaged as Dynamizers to raise collective awareness in the community around the importance of waste management and environmental protection. Dynamizers act as mediators for social cohesion, using their home languages and cultures to build relationships between local government actors and the wider migrant population. They are also trained in conflict mediation and play a significant role in improving intercultural communication within the city.

This case study was developed in the framework of the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project (MC2CM), a project coordinated by ICMPD and funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The MC2CM project has been working since 2015 with Amman, Beirut, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Tangiers, Tunis, Turin and Vienna to increase the knowledge base on urban migration. Additionally the project has sought to nurture a peer-to-peer dialogue and mutual learning on specific urban challenges such as social cohesion, intercultural dialogue, employment and provision of basic services for migrants, among others. This case study was selected by the Municipality of Madrid in order to showcase a practice that contributes to social inclusion of migrants at the local level.

This case study was contributed from the UCLG Learning Team (learning@uclg.org).


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City information
City
Madrid

Size and population development
2011: 6,574,000; 1990: 4,414,000; 2025: 8,098,000; 2010-2015: +2.38% / year

Population composition
83,6% native Spaniards. immigrant groups: Ecuadorian (104,184); Romanian; (52,875) Bolivian, Colombian etc.; 250,000 have a Muslim background, largely from Morocco etc.

Main functions
capital and largest city, major financial centre of southern Europe; green areas and a large number of trees make it one of the greenest cities in Europe

Main industries / business
(international) business and commerce, trade

Political structure
City Council: 52 members, Plenary of the Council: political representation of citizens and municipal government

Administrative structure
21 districts, 128 wards; metropolitan area: City of Madrid and 40 surrounding municipalities

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Background and objectives

Madrid’s cultural diversity is recognised as an important asset for the city and the government commits significant resources to promoting social inclusion. Madrid recognises that facilitating the swift entry of migrants into the labour market, whether as employees or as self-employed entrepreneurs, is important to ensure effective city-level integration. Newly arrived migrants are often reluctant to claim municipal support and services due to a previous lack of trust in local authorities. In order to reach out and communicate with migrants effectively and facilitate their inclusion in the city life, specific strategies such as Cuidamos Centro are required.  

Implementation
The Madrid Agency for Employment offers a specific training programme to people who are excluded from the labour market. It also supports long-term unemployed individuals to overcome barriers through the provision of technical training, practical work experience and individual mentoring. For a period of 9 months, participants are employed by the agency and receive the national minimum wage and an official employment contract which can be used as an employment reference once they have completed the programme.
 
As part of the broader programme, Cuidemos Centro also focuses on the challenge of waste management practices including street cleaning in Madrid’s historic neighbourhoods. A team comprising 15 employees, including 4 migrants, are known as “los dinamizadores” (the Dynamizers). They are tasked with preparing reports on street cleanliness and carrying out awareness campaigns with individual households, hotels and shop keepers in the neighbourhood. Working alone or in pairs, the Dynamizers aim to “inform and galvanize” citizens in these neighbourhoods. Overall, their actions contribute to promote environmental awareness and good waste management practices in Madrid’s Centro district.
 
Embracing Madrid’s diverse population, the programme has reserved a number of places for speakers of Bengali, Wólof and various Chinese languages in order to improve communication between the municipal government and migrant communities. This targeted approach recognises the need to ensure municipal messaging is accessible to citizens of all nationalities. Capable of translating information on environmental protection between their native language and Spanish, the Dynamizers have become a crucial resource for the city in awareness-raising campaigns. The Dynamizers represent a human link and help strengthen communication between residents and city government representatives.
 
Financing and resources

Coordinated by municipal officers, the total budget for the Cuidamos Centro programme is €225,000. This cost is born entirely by the municipal government. Participants are employed by the Madrid Agency for Employment and receive a nine month contract worth €700 per month. 

Results and impacts

The programme has tested and demonstrated the value of an innovative approach that recognises migrant cultures and languages and seeks to incorporate these into every day city management practices and service delivery. The work of the Dynamizers has helped to build relationships between inhabitants, settled communities and local authorities, by creating new and diverse channels of communication and translating/adapting local policies. 

Barriers and challenges

The Cuidemos Centro programme has to date been limited in duration. As a result, interaction between Dynamizers and full-time municipal employees working together has been minimal. Going forward, efforts should be made to create stronger linkages between programme participants and full-time staff working on similar issues. Similarly, the lack of systematic post-project follow-up obscures the extent to which such initiatives have helped facilitate long-term inclusion of Dynamizers into the labour market.

Despite the above challenges, the employment of migrants as Dynamizers has offered a number of key learnings for the city of Madrid, both in terms of how to engage with diverse employees and how to create new communication channels between residents and the city government. The project has demonstrated that without active migrant participation, awareness raising messages may fail to resonate with those marginalized groups understandably wary of local authorities and their representatives. To ensure the programme’s potential, there is a need to resource and scale up the initiative, incorporating migrants as community facilitators responsible for a range of municipal issues. 
Lessons learned and transferability
Undocumented migrants are often reluctant to interact or report exploitative labour situations with local authorities. To rectify this, improved communication and trust between migrants and city authorities is a crucial first step towards migrant integration. 
 
This initiative demonstrates integration methods from a human rights perspective. It builds opportunities for migrants to access the formal labour market, and supports the idea that migrants have a significant role to play in local planning and social cohesion objectives. Although small in scale in its pilot phase, this initiative offers a promising opportunity for upscaling and transferability, both within Madrid and to other urban contexts.
 
References
  • Interview with Gema Velasco, Public Officer from the municipality of Madrid, 5 September 2017
  • Interview with Gemma Velasco, Public Officer from the municipality of Madrid, 17 October 2017
  • Work document provided by the municipality of Madrid called ‘ Training and employment workshop for environmental dynamizers ‘Cuidamos Centro 2016’, provided 5 September 2017
  • Report, Thematic Peer to Peer Meeting on Employment and Entrepreneurship , Madrid Patio de los Cristales, Casa de la Villa, 3-4 November 2016
  • UCLG learning team (learning@uclg.org)

External links / documents