The Dutch Council for Refugees (Vluchtelingen Werk Nederland) showcased the added value of volunteers in promoting the integration of resettled refugees.
City officials, NGOs, representatives from Tampere, the municipality of Sittard Geleen (Netherlands), Maastricht, and from the Dutch Council of Refugees of the Limburg region, met in Limburg for an event on ‘Sharing through mentoring’. The visit was organised in the framework of the SHARE Network, established in early 2012 and led by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC - Europe). It focused on the added value of volunteering for promoting the integration of resettled refugees.
The visit on 4-5 February inspired new practices in volunteering for refugee integration, including how to recruit volunteers, the types of roles and activities volunteers can undertake, and the provision of adequate training and support to volunteers. The Dutch Council for Refugees currently employs 600 paid workers, who are supported by 6,800 volunteers dedicating on average three hours each week to the organisation. All volunteers receive specific training and soon become an integral part of the welcome and support provided to refugees, including those who have been resettled.
Volunteers support refugees through:
language coaching and support during language classes,
the ‘Emplooi project’ to help refugees find jobs
housing support for newly arriving refugees
support and advice for legal procedures
awareness raising activities
To find out more about the importance of volunteering in refugee integration, read the results of a seminar in Maastricht on 13-14 October 2014 on ‘What makes volunteering work? Expert seminar on volunteering in refugee resettlement’ here.
The Limburg study visit used the methodology developed through our ImpleMentoring project, which involves cities with common challenges being paired up in order to learn from each other.
What is resettlement?
Refugee resettlement is defined by UNHCR as 'the selection and transfer of refugees from a state in which they have sought protection to a third country that admits them – as refugees – with a permanent residence status'. Resettlement is a protection tool for refugees whose lives and liberty are at risk; a 'durable solution' for refugees alongside local integration and voluntary repatriation; and an expression of solidarity with those developing countries that host the majority of the world's refugees. More information is available here.
More information on the ‘Sharing through mentoring’ click here.
More about the SHARE II project