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Home » Justice & Peace engages with municipalities and partners at the “ From Migration To Participation” Congress

Justice & Peace engages with municipalities and partners at the “ From Migration To Participation” Congress

In May 2024, Justice & Peace was present to provide a workshop at the annual migration congress organized by VNG and the Ministries of Interior, Social Affairs and Justice.

Deriving from their expertise with the Samen Hier initiative, they offered insights into how civic participation can be encouraged in the support and reception of people with refugee backgrounds through community sponsorship.

The aim of the conference was to give the 1,200 visitors the opportunity to exchange best practices learned in the migration field and to work together on practical solutions that are proven to work. Justice & Peace showcased their work with the community sponsorship model and its current implementation in 9 municipalities across the Netherlands. Municipalities representatives and provinces, and other interested parties interacted and reflected on the role of local people, ways to mobilize local solidarity, and discussed potential bottlenecks and opportunities.

Conclusions and steps forward

The conversation about the crucial role of residents in welcoming people with refugee backgrounds could not have come at a better time; it was a day after the announcement of the outline agreement for the strictest asylum package that had been presented in the Netherlands.

The exchange led to the acknowledgement that the profile of people willing to engage has changed and that the Samen Hier approach, where the support of newcomers is carried by a group, fits better with that change. More importantly, it was recognized that people who are eager to get involved are able to combine their busy social and professional lives with civic participation.

The conversation also emphasized the importance of an open attitude from the neighbourhood regarding welcoming persons with refugee backgrounds. The low-threshold and equal support through the designated Samen Hier group has proven to be an indispensable addition to the formal (integration) support. At the same time, the involvement of local groups also strengthens this support, making the neighbourhood residents feel the responsibility, take agency, and simultaneously inspire and inform their friends, other neighbours or acquaintances about their experience.

The interest of municipalities further reinforces a solution-based attitude as well as the belief in engaged locals to bear this responsibility together with them. Following the workshop, more targeted discussions emerged with several interested municipalities and organizations, marking a promising continuation of the work of the Samen Hier movement towards more inclusive societies.

Would you also like to discuss how to involve locals in welcoming newcomers through the Samen Hier community sponsorship model?