Focusing on migrant emplacement and inclusive development in ‘left behind’ areas (WS Conference in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) 4-6 October 2023)

Between 4 and 6 October 2023, the pre-final conference of the H2020 Welcoming Spaces project was held in Santiago de Compostela, organized by the ESOMI research team (UDC, University of A Coruña) and the CEPAIM Foundation. Many hours of reflection and dialogue to advance knowledge about how initiatives have an impact on the revitalisation of territories and the reception of people on the move.

During the first day, Wednesday the 4th, in the lovely library of the Consello da Cultura Galega (Santiago de Compostela) we were able to meet again among partners and make progress on logistical issues of the project. We were able to understand how Santiago de Compostela is linked to migrations through a walking tour of its history.

Later on, we had the opportunity to explore the exhibition “Visions off Migration. Local Development in European Contexts” with Asmaa Al-Moustapha, one of the artists-participants during the PhotoVoice session in Talayuela, Spain (see the Photobook here:

After sharing and discussing about the results of the multiple themes covered by the project, we were able to enjoy another audiovisual product of it: the wonderfull documentary “Si ka badu, ka ta biradu”, followed by a discussion with some of its protagonists, the women of the powerful group Batuko Tabanka. It was a pleasure to meet them, ask about their experience and enjoy their artistic expression.

On Friday 6 October at the Consello da Cultura Galega (Santiago de Compostela), the public session of the “Welcoming Spaces Forum: Policy challenges for migrant Emplacement in rural areas” took place, with the aim of debating the arrival of migrants in rural areas from the municipal perspective, from the third sector entities, and with policymakers from different administrations at European, national and regional level. The first of the round tables, with representatives of the municipalities of Celanova, Burela, San Bartolomé de la Torre (Huelva) and Camañas (Teruel), showed the initiatives they are carrying out for the reception of people and revitalisation, and pointed out the lessons learned and challenges they face on a daily basis. This was followed by a round table of entities, where the Cepaim Foundation, the NGO Ecos do Sur, the Yaran Foundation, the Cantaclaro Association and a participant from the Neighbourhood Association of Arenillas (Soria), who also spoke as a neighbour and ex-mayor, showed us the role of the social sector in rural areas. Finally, the table of policymakers, where we had the participation of the Secretary General of Emigration, the Director of the Galician Agency for Rural Development, a technical representative of the Directorate General of Social Inclusion, a representative of the European Rural Pact (European Commission) and the head of cabinet of the Secretary of State for Migration, who explained the measures that affect the territories at the intersection between development and settlement of new neighbours of migrant origin.

In the afternoon of the same day 6, we experienced first-hand the reception of Sobrado (province of A Coruña), with a visit to the municipality, where we were able to delve into several of the initiatives for the reception of people and/or territorial revitalisation, in which we were able to share reflections with the association A Maristela, with the social workers of the Sobrado Town Council, with the Yaran Foundation, with the Sobrado Business Association, with the Millo e Landras project, with the community of the monastery and also with several long-term and recently incorporated neighbours from different backgrounds. We left very grateful for the wonderful welcome at Sobrado, for all the lessons we took home and for the time that was dedicated to us!