Integration and Inclusion Agency opens its third regional branch in Latvia

Integration and Inclusion Agency opens its third regional branch in Latvia

To promote cooperation between the Latgale branch of the IIA and the involved parties, SIF held an opening event in Daugavpils, where representatives of various sectors – non-governmental organizations, municipal institutions, representatives of the academic sector, representatives of the business environment and other interested parties gathered to learn more about the activities of the IIA, as well as to form closer cooperation. During the event, a public discussion was also held on the topic “What should we do better to include foreigners (immigrants)?”, in which participated Zaiga Pūce, Director of the Society Integration Foundation, Karolīna Hrapāne, ERASMUS+ Project Coordinator of the Daugavpils University, Ruta Priede, Senior Commercial Specialist of the Latgale Planning Region, Jurate Kornutjaka, Head of the Daugavpils branch of the State Employment Agency and Ilze Onzule, Methodologist of Adult Education of Daugavpils Education Board. As the main finding can be noted – society should become more open, see the benefits, and create opportunities so that foreigners want to integrate into Latvian culture and everyday life. According to the data from the State Employment Agency, Latgale has the highest unemployment rate in Latvia. Also, at the end of 2023, the highest level of registered unemployment in Latvia remained in the Latgale region – 10.8%. Meanwhile, the labor shortage is being felt by businesses around Latvia. Referring to the information provided by the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, employers are facing both low-skilled labor shortages, and a lack of skilled labor. Therefore, the employment of foreigners should be promoted by solving the obstacles that currently prevent their employment.

“For the first time in 30 years, the population of Latvia increased last year. However, this did not happen due to the birth rate increase, this happened due to immigration, including Ukrainian civilians who found refuge in Latvia fleeing war-torn Ukraine. I am pleased that, in the opening of regional branches of the IIA NGOs, representatives of the business and education environment, representatives of state and local government institutions come together to look for solutions on how to jointly create conditions so that everyone who has chosen Latvia as their home country feels good here and falls in love with our society , culture and language,” Zaiga Pūce, Director of the Society Integration Foundation, expressed her position.

Effective provision of services includes the creation of close cooperation both with municipalities and all involved parties, because most basic needs are directly related to the offer of municipalities – to receive information about employment, education, housing, healthcare, language learning, etc. This proves to be true also when reviewing the most frequently asked questions at the IIA branches, which include questions about ways to obtain a residence permit, employment and language learning, educational opportunities and recognition of professional qualifications obtained abroad.

Clients living in the Latgale region are welcome to visit the Latgale branch of the IIA at Ģimnāzijas Street 11, on Mondays from 1 pm to 5 pm, on Tuesdays from 12 pm to 4 pm, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 am to 1 pm. At the Latgale branch, clients are welcomed by Customer Consultant Edita Latkovska and Change Agent Olga Kuzņecova. To receive consultations, one must apply by calling +371 29557630 or writing to the e-mail address: [email protected].

At the beginning of the year, the Society Integration Foundation started a new project – Integration and Inclusion Agency, with the aim of providing all the necessary information and support for third-country nationals and recipients of international protection for their successful socio-economic inclusion in Latvia. Topics of consultations include conditions for entry and stay in the country, employment, housing, healthcare, education, humanitarian aid, as well as help in solving individual situations. Currently, the agency provides oral and written translations in more than 24 languages and legal assistance. Soon, it is planned to introduce individual consultations by a Psychologist and a Psychotherapist. In the first quarter of this year, it is planned to open the fourth and last branch of the IIA – in Valmiera.

Services of the Integration and Inclusion Agency are provided by the Society Integration Foundation within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund’s project (Agreement No. PMIF/13.1./2022/1/01). The funding has been allocated by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (75%) and Latvian State budget (25%).

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