Every year there are more and more people on the move around the world, searching for a better life. Many of them arrive in Granada and are welcomed by Granada Acoge, an NGO which aims to facilitate the integration of migrants into the city, so they can achieve exactly that. Currently though, the health and wellbeing of their users are suffering due to deficiencies in key social determinants of health such as quality of housing, economic status, employment, social support, access to nutritious foods and social services. This blog is going to talk about how Granada Acoge is structured to address these complex determinants.
What are the current health and social challenges faced by the users of Granada Acoge?
In their 2016 annual report, they once again noted the presence of great difficulties that their user population faces due to precarious labor and economic situations and also due to the lack of access to social resources that have been severely cut in recent years. As a result, a general worsening in the social well being of users has been noted, as has a decline in mental health for both adults and minors. It also estimated that the average wage of migrant workers was less than 400 euros per month, which is one of the main causes of poverty in migrant families whilst also impacting other dependant family members in their countries of origin. The report also stated that 45% of their users struggled to pay the rent and to cover the nutritional needs of their family.
Another important aspect of the work performed by Granada Acoge involves addressing “migratory grief” experienced by users due to the migration process (“Duelo Migratorio” in Spanish). This can be caused by intense feelings of loss and often occurs when people try to integrate into a new society and are stuck between two lives, places, cultures, languages and therefore two identities, creating a potentially damaging internal conflict. It needs to be addressed through psychosocial interventions, hence why it is key that the host society facilitates social integration (although there has been some resistance in Granada).
In this video, Assane Top, the current president of the association speaks about some of their services and also about how the association has adapted to a changing context and needs of its users over the years.
How is Granada Acoge organised? How does it address the challenges faced by its users?
The association is arranged in a way that allows it to address the above mentioned social determinants of health, but first, let me explain its organisational structure. Along with eight other associations, Granada Acoge forms part of Andalucia Acoge, whose functions include the coordination of actions between each sub-association to optimise impact, representation at regional, national and international level, and also the search of funding for projects.
As can be seen in the organisation chart below, the ultimate decision making power within Granada Acoge rests with the General Assembly. The Board of Directors directs the operations of the association and is composed of the President, Secretary, Treasurer and general members that are all volunteers and meet twice per month. The Coordinator of Granada Acoge is then in charge of overseeing the actions of the various Work Teams that are divided into three Work Areas; Social, Education and Participation. Each of these areas of work contain various programs which are composed of both paid and volunteer workers, volunteers making up the vast majority of people at the association.
The Social Work Area aims to facilitate users’ integration into society by providing access to housing, health services and work, including through the provision of Health Cards to those users in irregular administrative situations. The Education Work Area includes Spanish classes provided at the association for all age groups and recreational activities for youth with the purpose of developing basic skills to facilitate social inclusion. Finally, through social and neighbourhood interventions, and awareness raising activities, the Work Area of Participation is used to develop a more harmonious and inviting community in which diversity is valued. The structure of the association allows each of these work areas and the programs within them to address key social determinants of health that correspond to the principal needs of the its users.
Through focusing its efforts on a wide variety of essential social determinants of health, Granada Acoge works towards giving its users a chance to live the better life they left home to search for. Their fantastic work should be celebrated and replicated, and at the same time it makes us wonder… How do they adapt their services to the changing needs of their users? And, what evaluation methods do they use in order to measure the impact of their services? You’ll have to read the second part of this blog to find out!
For more information about the association:
c/ Portería de Santa Paula s/n, 1º, 18001 Granada
Teléfonos: 958200836, 958800428
Correo electrónico: email@example.com
Thanks for writing and sharing this blog post, Pete! It was a very interesting read, and I’m certainly looking forward to reading Part 2. I was already aware of the «Refugees Welcome» movement and organisations in Madrid and Barcelona, but perhaps because of the visibility of these larger cities, it’s easy to forget about the work being done in the rest of the country.
I especially liked the way you framed the issue of migrant health as the product of different social determinants of health. Aside from the physical health problems that are due to poverty, poor housing conditions and lack of nutritional food, I think it’s also important to consider the mental health issues linked to the process of migrating and settling into a new place – the stress, the grief, the deconstruction and reconstruction of one’s identity and social environment… The socio-cultural integration of migrants is complex and multi-dimensional, but I believe it can begin with smaller, more manageable steps such as language classes or the “afternoon tea” offered by Granada Acoge.
On a related note, I was shocked to read about the small group of extremists who protested against the arrival of refugees in Granada. On the bright side (?) though, they seem to be a very small minority who aren’t overshadowing the work being done by Granada Acoge and other similar organisations. In a world of Trump, travel bans, Brexit and the rise of right-wing populism, it may appear that xenophobia and isolationism are the new norm, but it’s reassuring to know what we can do to counter this.
Thanks for reading and for the comment! I absolutely share your view that the work done by groups such as Granada Acoge is vital to work towards a more integrated and rich society for everyone. I know that Granada Acoge does a lot of advocacy work and forms part of many networks alongside other organisations, I hope that this is the way towards influencing political decisions, like those you have mentioned above, so that we can take collective action too.
Great article, Pete! I know you have personal experience working with Granada Acoge. It speaks a lot to the integrity of the organization that it not only looks impressive on paper but also that someone from the inside shares the same opinion. The organization’s culture in the video seems to emit optimism and hope, two crucial components for social integration of its users. It is far too common to feel defeated by grand, socioeconomic disparities, yet the holistic approach you outlined addresses these concerns.
I’m interested to see how Granada Acoge adapts to changing migration patterns and changing users’ needs. Every migrant’s story exists in the context of an even broader, global story linked to multi-dimensional historical, economic, and political relationships between regions. These create different “push and pull factors” that motivate people to migrate. Could being informed about this context help better understand and meet users’ needs?
Additionally, do you know if Granada Acoge is working specifically in women’s health? Female migrants in particular require immediate support in recovering from the move, where they may have faced exploitation and violence and/or lacked sufficient feminine hygiene products. Pregnant women are likely to be behind on antenatal care. And, of course, the intersectionality of these situation poses an even greater health risk in the short and long term. I’m curious to learn about some of the efforts in this area!
Thanks for giving us the inside scoop on Granada Acoge. Already looking forward to la parte 2!!
Human migration (and its consequences) is a subject that we need to talk about and learn about. So, thank you for sharing with us the work of Granada Acoge. I think that it allows us to understand a little more about the reality of migration in our context: the problems that migrants face, and the possible solutions to solve them.
I appreciated that you shared with us the organizational aspects of the association. Understanding how something we like works, encourage us to participate, and even reproduce it.
I’m looking forward to the second part too! Especially, I find interesting to know more about what evaluation methods Granada Acoge use in order to measure the impact of their services.
Waiting to read you again soon!
Some genuinely excellent information, Gladiola I discovered this.