After months of intensive preparation, the time has come! Together Here, a new social initiative to accelerate the integration of refugees will start in The Hague, Almere, Haarlem and Rotterdam. In this community-based program, Welcome Groups of five Dutch people will be in touch with a newcomer or family for a year. Human rights organisation Justice and Peace Netherlands sees this initiative as the basis for a sustainable Dutch migration and integration policy, based on scientific evidence and research. And the best part: you can already participate in The Hague!
Anyone who has ever relocated can agree: it takes a while before you feel at home in a new place. This applies to refugees in the Netherlands, often coming from a completely different situation. Aya, herself in the Netherlands since 2015, knows this only too well: “When you come to the Netherlands, everything is completely different. It is really difficult, a new country, new information, a new language. In Syria I was mainly concerned with my family and here I suddenly had to arrange all sorts of other things myself.” She came in contact with several people who helped her on her way. “Social networks can be so useful. For example, I found my current job via an employee at the primary school of the daughter of my friend’s neighbor!”
For newcomer status holders it is very difficult to build a social network. One of the initiators of Samen Hier, Maaike Count of Justice and Peace, says: “I work a lot with new Dutch people and what strikes me again and again is that every newcomer longs for contact with the Dutch, but that it is very difficult to do.” Conversely, there are many Dutch people who want to mean something for newcomers, but have little time for volunteering, or find the threshold just too high.
With this in mind, ‘Samen Hier’ came into being. The participation of enthusiastic groups of Dutch people is indispensable here. The core is simple. In Together Here you and four others – for example, your neighbors, colleagues, friends, clubmates or family members – spend a year with a newcomer or newcomers family. A special algorithm developed by the Canadian University of Toronto provides the best match between newcomer and Welcome Group. The group decides for themselves what they will do. This can be anything from study or work to practicing the language and celebrating national holidays.
Would you like to be part of a Welcome Group?
With the Welcome Group newcomers can really integrate and build up a broad social and professional network. Welcome Groups can be very diverse and different. For example, they consist of people from the creative sector, the business community, or politics, in fact everyone whose network, knowledge and time are of value to the newcomer or the new family. Because you are in a group, you can divide tasks and participate in ‘Samen Hier’ with little to no disruption to overcrowded agendas of your job or a family.
Want to join in? You can! Residents of The Hague, Almere, Haarlem and Rotterdam can already sign up on the website. The Samen Hier team will contact you. More information is available at www.samenhier.nl