Type of practice:
The Federal Government of Germany is funding the Migration Counselling MBE as an additional offer to the integration courses, for adult immigrants, from 27 years old on and for their family members. The counselling is implemented by the non-statutory welfare organisations and the Federation of Expellees and their social workers and advisers. The MBE focuses on migrants, who received a residence permit or will stay probably in Germany for longer than a year. In general, the offer is limited up to three years. The counselling is temporary and individual, the key activity is an individual case management process. The MBE is intended to initiate, manage, and support the integration process of adult immigrants. The MBE aims to support and empower the immigrants and enable them to organise their life in Germany on their own and independently. The immigrants can benefit from this offer by choice and for free.
Since many MBE counsellors and social workers often have a migration background themselves, they are in many cases able to speak the language of advice-seekers. Additionally, MBE counsellors always have an opportunity to use the services of translators and video interpreters in order to ensure that all groups of advice-seekers, regardless of their language skills, have access to the migration counselling.
The MBE counselling is complimentary to integration courses (German language courses), so that many migrants learn about the counselling through these courses or through the counsellors at the Job Center or other official institutions. Moreover, the MBE organizations and counsellors use flyers and social media as well as other communication channels to proactively inform advice-seekers about their services. In many cases the information is passed by word of mouth.
Benefit and Impact
- Legal questions about residence
- Learning the German language (e.g. participating in an integration course)
- Education and vocational training (e.g. schooling, training, career paths, recognition of professional qualifications)
- Employment (e.g. writing job applications, looking for jobs)
- Financial situation (e.g. income, loans, debts)
- Housing (e.g. looking for a place to live, financing an apartment)
- Health (e.g. health insurance, medical care)
- Personal health situation (e.g. health problems)
- Marriage, family and upbringing (e.g. pregnancy)
- Mobility and transport (e.g. driving licence, public transport)
- Recreation, sports and leisure (e.g. accessible facilities, club memberships)
- Everyday activities (e.g. shopping, contact with local authorities)
The MBE works together with all relevant stakeholders on the local level, to find the right authorities and organisation for solving the challenges the immigrants are facing. For the recognition of professional qualifications the clients are sent e.g. to the authorized counselling offices.
The counselling of the MBE is covering a broad range from answering short question until the long time case management up to three years.
300.000 people per year are benefiting from the counselling and around 500.000 in total including family members.
Since the MBE covers a broad range of subjects it is important to provide the counsellors permanent training for case management, right of residence, crisis intervention, and a variety of other topics. Many German welfare organisations run own colleges or in-house training centers, so they can offer these trainings on their own.
The MBE counselling has not been closed during the challenge of the coronavirus crisis, but in-person services have been reduced to a minimum and expanded again if the situation got better. Most counselling services are offered by telephone. Online counselling services are also available, as is postal correspondence between counselling staff and those seeking advice. The online counselling service, which was already in place before the coronavirus crisis through a dedicated app or via a contact form on the website, has proved extremely useful during the pandemic.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Testing online counselling, be open for new and different approaches
- The funding guidelines of the MBE offer all counselling offices the participation in these online counselling approaches.
- Additionally to the messenger counselling, the criteria offering funding of video interpreting solutions.
- The MBE is working together with the other federal counselling service, the Youth Migration Services (JMD) and counselling services funded by the German states (Bundeslaender) to exchange these new digital approaches.
- The Covid-19 pandemic has proved how useful these approaches are.
- The MBE Programme is a Germany-wide counselling network of migration counselling services which supports the integration of migrants into the German society and thus adds to the intercultural dialogue und social cohesion in Germany and contributes to avoiding radicalization and ethnical conflicts. Some organizations within the MBE work proactively with certain groups of migrants in their home countries to prepare them for immigrating to Germany (i.e. the Friedland Project, Goethe-Institute).
- The counselling within the MBE Programme adds to support human rights and gender equality. It also offers support to vulnerable groups of advice-seekers.
- The MBE counselling upholds the human rights of children though providing professional and child-oriented counselling of families, although this is not the main target group which the MBE addresses. The main target group within the MBE counselling are adults older than 27 years.