Announcing EPIM’s New Grant Cohort - Decent Work and Housing

Announcing EPIM’s New Grant Cohort - Decent Work and Housing

EPIM will support 6 New Partners in Creating and Enhancing Conditions for Decent Work and Adequate Housing For All

Everyone aspires to live and work decently but without dignity and equality, without safety at work, without a place to call home, how does one participate economically, socially, and politically? Among those particularly exposed to these issues are people who have migrated to or within the EU.  Fundamentally, decent work and housing for all is about social cohesion and the well-being of our societies. This requires collaboration, dialogue, and trust amongst a plethora of stakeholders.

With these thoughts in mind, EPIM launched a call for proposals to support multistakeholder coordination, collaboration and/or dialogue between concerned parties in Spring 2022. We wanted to support actors to test, implement and replicate these coordination efforts to build structural and sustainable trust relationships between actors involved. We intentionally reached out to civil society actors (especially self-led ones) across different European countries and sectors (e.g., migration, agri-food, care, housing, and trade). We also sought to address some of the impacts of the covid pandemic which further exposed the level of inequality in our societies, by jointly rethinking the future of work and housing.

The Cohort

We are proud to be collaborating with the following partners. Besides funding, EPIM will be facilitating connections and providing opportunities to partners to benefit individually and collectively as part of a larger ecosystem of actors working towards decent work and housing for all.

European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance – ESWA

Pan-European – 80,000 EUR

Housing, or rather, the lack of it, has historically been a significant issue for sex workers and LGBTIQ+ people. However, the COVID-19 crisis made it clear that this has not been the case for the institutions charged with procuring this fundamental human right. Through this project, ESWA aims to collect data on the housing conditions of sex workers in different legal contexts around sex work. ESWA wants to map and determine the relationship between the criminalisation of sex work and access to housing. ESWA and the local partners will present community reports and briefing papers. With this, ESWA aims to initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue with local authorities to address the urgent housing needs of migrant sex workers in Europe. 

Chico Mendes and NO CAP

Italy – 91,200 EUR

The Spartacus Project aims to reduce endemic labour exploitation (called “Caporalato”, i.e., the illicit intermediation between the employer and the workers in agriculture), improve housing conditions, and access to fundamental rights for migrant farmworkers in the South of Italy. The initiative takes place in Piana di Gioia Tauro, in Calabria Region, one of the places with the most exploitation of agricultural labour in Europe.

The Spartacus Project consolidates a sustainable and effective model that acts on the entire supply chain, from agricultural production to the marketing of the product, and protects workers’ rights, and the environment. The initiative is led by Association Chico Mendes (ACM) and Association NO CAP, two Italian non-profit organizations active in the fight against the Capolarato. Since 1994, ACM has been promoting solidarity economy projects in Italy and abroad, in partnership with fair trade organizations and in strategic agreement with Chico Cooperative Mendes scs. NO CAP was created in 2011 based on the initiative of Yvan Sagnet as a movement to fight against the practice of “Caporalato” and to promote respect for human, social and environmental rights.

Fonds de Dotation Merci

France – 80,000 EUR

Convinced that the migrant population presents an opportunity to France, the Fonds de dotation Merci have been reflecting and collaborating on innovative solutions to improve the refugee reception and inclusion in France since 2018. The Horizon project was conceived with that in mind and with the aim to build a multicultural village with refugees and French residents who will settle and co-habit there permanently.

At the heart of this project is the renovation and construction of a place to live thanks to the ‘savoir-faire’ of both refugees and residents. Through their skillsets, the participants will contribute to the economic, social, and cultural development of the locality to meet the needs of the territory.  The ambition of the project is to prove, by example, that a thoughtful and smarter reception is possible, as a complement to traditional temporary accommodation centres.

 Next Step

Hungary – 234,000 EUR

Through the EPIM-funded project, Next Step Hungary Association addresses the urgent needs of families displaced from Ukraine as well as providing strategic interventions for other disadvantaged people (particularly but not exclusively non-EU nationals) in Hungary. The project comprises multiple programmes for both adults and children, taking place in Budapest and spanning from the fall of 2022 until the end of 2024. Activities include educational workshops and housing support programmes designed to help disadvantaged groups and displaced families navigate the Hungarian educational system and access suitable, affordable housing in a timely fashion.

The project also aims to empower adults in with valuable job skills, in-demand in the Hungarian labour market, through training courses in coding, robotics, and forklift driving. For children, Next Step offers specialized subject-area tutoring, an after-school homework/social centre, and kids’ robotics workshops, to assist children struggling in a new school environment while also creating a supportive space where they can learn, socialize, and thrive.


Belgium – 159,048.87 EUR

ORBIT is a Belgian NGO that allies with people, organisations and governments in a world of cultural and religious superdiversity and migration. In 2016, following the increased arrival of refugees from Syria, ORBIT started the ‘New Neighbours’ project. This project tackles the problem of housing for recognized refugees in Flanders through a bottom-up approach. Orbit helps set up local initiatives and offers support through workshops and a series of toolboxes on different practical formulas that can be used in order to house newcomers as effectively as possible. Besides providing actual solutions for homeless refugees, this approach has also contributed to inform policy recommendations towards structural changes, based on the local volunteers’ daily encounters with regulatory and legal barriers that stand between refugees and their new homes.

Orbit aims to also use this current momentum of civilian solidarity with Ukraine and expand these advantageous policies to all of newcomers while also using the organisation’s established methods in offering support in setting up new local refugee housing associations and further expand the network.

Reflecting on the Application and Selection Process

In total EPIM awarded 645,000 EUR to 6 organisations for the period 2022-2024.

The selection process was competitive with 107 organisations applying from across migrants’ rights, agriculture, food processing, housing, fair-trade and workers’ rights sectors. Several applications were received from Western Europe and particularly Italian organisations focusing on migrant workers in the agricultural sector.

The applicants submitted one-page concept notes which were reviewed by 2 external evaluators and members of the EPIM team and shortlisted applicants were invited to more detailed conversations. In the final selection approved by EPIM’s partner foundations, we prioritized organisations that:

  • Put lived experience at the centre stage of their work by being migrant-led or self-led, or by ensuring that people with lived experience had the actual power to shape priorities and actions
  • Were about systemic change: all selected organisations seek to address the root causes of the problem and provide viable alternatives to the status quo, as opposed to symptomatic solutions related to labour and housing challenges.
  • Built collaboration across diverse sectors and actors and as such contribute to break down longstanding siloes between so-called migrant inclusion issues on the one hand and other social issues on the other hand.
  • Ensured long-term sustainability by creating a joint sense of ownership among those who wanted to see change (including state and non-state actors), rather than solely relying on fundraising

Our Observations and Learnings

There is a huge need for funding in the area: As evident from the number of responses, more funding for targeted support and systemic interventions is needed to combat labour exploitation and housing precariousness, given how widespread this seems across Europe.

Collaboration across sectors is rare: The social sector continues to be segmented and siloed across organisations that focus on migration on one hand and organisations that focus on social issues, labour trade etc. on the other. Very few proposals attempted to break down those silos.

Collaboration beyond the civil society sector is also rare: Most applications focused on traditional advocacy aimed at showcasing existing issues rather than fostering multistakeholder dialogues and movements to change things structurally.

Impact on the Future of our Grant-making

We recognise that calls for proposals are an imperfect tool given their limited reach, the almost inevitable exclusion of certain types of organisations, and the drain on applicants’ resources and time and the human cost, and will work to finding a fairer alternative.

We  acknowledge the overrepresentation of organisations based in Western Europe and have made it a priority to build more connections in Central and Eastern Europe something we’ve been doing  extensively through our Ukraine response.

The funding EPIM provides is relatively small and moving forward, we need further reflection on where EPIM can add value. Supporting a focus on lived experience, systemic change, and collaboration will be amongst EPIM’s core intentions going forward.

Image Credit: Yann Kebbi