Statskontoret has evaluated the Government's investment in bridge-building activities for the period 2012-2015. The bridge-building activities are part of the Government's twenty-year strategy for Roma inclusion and a reinforcement of the minority policy.
“Bridge-builders” (mediators) are people with Romani language skills and knowledge of Romani culture who are employed in the public sector to function as a link between individuals and public operations. The Government's investment in these bridge-builders is intended to increase the Romani minority's access to education, social initiatives and Sweden's public employment service, Arbetsförmedlingen. It is also intended to increase trust between the Romani minority and the municipal administration and Arbetsförmedlingen.
The overall goal of the strategy is for any Roma turning 20 in 2032 to have the same opportunities in life as a person of any other ethnicity. The strategy's target group is primarily the Roma who are in a situation of social and economic alienation and are subject to discrimination.
The bridge-building activities have contributed to Roma inclusion
Statskontoret's overall assessment is that the bridge-building activities have contributed to Roma inclusion. Our investigation shows that via their activities, the bridge-builders have disseminated knowledge to the Romani minority regarding municipal activities and Arbetsförmedlingen's service. The bridge-builders also have increased the level of knowledge among the authorities; among teachers, principals, social workers and employment officers, for example. They have provided individual advice and participated in three-part dialogues. The bridge-builders have also become role models, for example to Romani pupils.
The bridge-building activities are found in eight municipalities and Arbetsförmedlingen
A key part of the Government's investment in bridge-building activities has consisted of developing a new university-level programme for municipal bridge-builders. The result is that 24 bridge-builders have completed the programme thus far, 23 of which are employed in 8 municipalities. Arbetsförmedlingen's commission to work with Roma inclusion has led Arbetsförmedlingen to appoint 1 coordinator at the head office and 5 customer resources at 5 local offices. Customer resources are Arbetsförmedlingen's equivalent to bridge-builders in municipal operations.
Government costs for the municipal bridge-building activities 2012-2015 amounted to over SEK 14 million. Arbetsförmedlingen has allocated roughly SEK 12 million for initiatives geared towards Roma inclusion for the period 2012-2015, and these initiatives have largely been funded via the authority's administrative grants.
Risk of bridge-building activities not being spread or developed
Statskontoret's assessment is that there is a risk the bridge-building activities will become a temporary initiative, despite positive results in several areas. It remains uncertain as to how certain municipalities will make use of the experience gained from the bridge-building activities thus far. There is also uncertainty surrounding how the approach and methods for the bridge-building activities will be utilised in the municipalities' normal structures and how experiences from the municipalities that have developed bridge-building activities will be disseminated to other municipalities. Furthermore, it is unclear how Arbetsförmedlingen's work with Roma inclusion will be organised after 2015.
Success factors for well-functioning bridge-building activities
Statskontoret points out a number of success factors that can improve the conditions for bridge-building activities under municipal management or within Arbetsförmedlingen. These factors include:
- the establishment of functioning consultation in the municipality, in which the Romani minority is well-represented
- bridge-builders and customer resources being provided with education/training opportunities
- the bridge builder role being defined and concretised
- the existence of forums for exchanging experiences so as to enable development of bridge-building activities.
Proposals to the Government and Arbetsförmedlingen
Statskontoret's assessment is that there will continue to be a need for measures from the government in order to develop and spread the work with Roma inclusion in the form of bridge-building activities in the municipalities and within Arbetsförmedlingen. Statskontoret has therefore decided to submit proposals for how government initiatives can support future bridge-builder activities in municipalities and in Arbetsförmedlingen.
Statskontoret's recommendations to the Government:
- continue to provide financial support from state funds in order to educate/train and employ bridge-builders
- do the necessary groundwork to enable Södertörn University to continue to offer education for municipal bridge-builders in the form of a joint programme, regardless of the bridge-builders' area of activities within the municipality
- work in agreement with SALAR towards creating a network for municipalities, county councils and regions which aims to support the work on Roma inclusion, including bridge-building activities
- commission Arbetsförmedlingen to continue the process of developing and spreading the work with Roma inclusion. Experiences from the customer resources' work with Roma inclusion should be utilised in the commission.
Statskontoret's recommendations to the Arbetsförmedlingen:
- continue to offer knowledge support on a central level for work with Roma inclusion, both regionally and locally.
Statskontoret recommends that Arbetsförmedlingen and the municipalities
- intensify the work to improve opportunities for women to benefit from the initiatives for Roma inclusion.