Social guidance for refugees by local volunteers
The project in brief
Dutch Council for Refugees
VluchtelingenWerk Nederland started the project in the 1980s. The project is ongoing and remains one of the core tasks of VluchtelingenWerk Nederland.
The project responds to identified needs, for refugees and host communities, by locally integrating refugees in Dutch society. It enables refugees to live and independent life in the Netherlands and leads to tangible benefits for both the host communities and refugees. The activities within the good practice of social guidance are aimed at assisting refugees in playing an independent part in Dutch society and building a future for themselves in the Netherlands.
The project tries to stimulate contact between refugees and host communities, promote a positive image of refugees and encouraging the emancipation of refugees.
The project is developed and implemented with various stakeholders : refugees, host populations and municipalities. It takes into account consideration of age, gender, disability and diversity through its personalized style of socially guiding refugees.
The principal objective of the project is to promote the independent active participation of refugees in Dutch society.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- The first phase of the project is an intensive individual guidance. The objective is to teach refugees primary living skills. These refugees are newcomers to the Netherlands. They have not yet built a social network, and they are not yet familiar with Dutch society. They receive guidance concerning immediate physical necessities such as accommodation, health care, transport, etc.
- In the second phase, the individual guidance is aimed at assisting refugees to cope and to participate in Dutch society. The guidance given at this stage concerns various aspects of refugees’ life in the community, along with their physical necessities. Matters such as education, training, access to employment, and volunteer work are addressed.
- Group guidance is also aimed at assisting refugees with coping and participating in society. This process allows various target groups to learn about many different aspects of Dutch social and cultural life. Apart from receiving information about various themes, the group also takes part in socio-cultural activities related to participation in Dutch community life. The activities are based on demand, and open to the entire group.
- Dutch municipalities
- Other statutory partners, such as housing cooperatives
- Host communities (mainly through volunteering for the project)
Challenges and how they were overcome
The government did not include social guidance for refugees in the new Civic Integration Act. Concerns were raised by municipalities regarding the impact of this decision on the integration process for refugees and the long-term impact this could have on Dutch society as a whole.
The Dutch Council for Refugees lobbied against this decision and the government decided to continue to finance social guidance for refugees.
Results of the Good Practice
Easier and faster integration of refugees in their host communities.
Roswitha Weiler, Senior Policy Officer, Dutch Council for Refugees