Over the past few years, sentiments within the European Union towards migration have become increasingly negative. In fact, the 2015 IOM Report on migration found that people in Europe hold the most negative perception in the world towards immigration, with 52% holding the opinion that immigration levels in their countries should be decreased and in the EU as a whole 48% of the citizens wishing to see lower levels of immigration (Esipova et al, 2015). The results of the study show that significantly problematic views and opinions on migration currently exist in Europe. Such sentiments make it increasingly difficult for the various societies, governments, NGOs and so forth to create and maintain policies and projects which effectively work towards successful integration and inclusion. Consequently, the challenge of how to facilitate the inclusion of a growing number of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and enhance their participation in the new societies of their host countries has been increasingly gaining importance in many host countries. Most notably, with the emergence of the refugee crisis in 2015 and beyond this challenge has become more prevalent and acute in Europe.
Integration, or the successful coexistence of two or more cultures within one society, becomes significantly important in the plans to accept refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Currently across Europe, the reception and integration policies of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants vary widely and, as a result, there have been few studies and projects which compare and contrast the different existing integration projects and approaches and also assess their strengths and weaknesses (Mestheneos & Ioannidi 2002; Korac 2003; Smyth et al, 2010).
The project Home Away From Home aims to contribute to the shortage of research on innovative community integration approaches and, in particular, to comparative research across European countries. Our research has a special focus on integration projects and experiences, which involve and are initiated by young people, and which includes feedback from the refugees, asylum seekers and migrants themselves.