Justice and Peace’s Samen Hier initiative and Takecarebnb join forces!
Justice and Peace’s Samen Hier initiative and Takecarebnb are joining forces to strengthen the role of citizens in receiving and welcoming refugees. On 10 November, the organisations signed a covenant which reflects their shared conviction that citizens want to take responsibility for the (safe) passage, shelter, and further integration of refugees. The final ambition is to enable local communities to take on an active role in the resettlement and welcoming of refugees in their hometown.
Robert Zaal, director of Takecarebnb: “Samen Hier and Takecarebnb work on the basis of the same philosophy, which is making use of active citizenship and taking responsibility for integration and pleasant coexistence together. So no wait-and-see, no pointing fingers at others, but taking action together. Acquaintance creates affection. Through our collaboration, we share our knowledge and networks and in this way we want to do even more good to old and new Dutch citizens.’’
Through the partnership, Samen Hier and Takecarebnb can share tools and expertise in order to create a new infrastructure in which citizens will form a welcoming community and cooperate with their municipality to shape the reception of refugees in their city or town.
In principle, this will be done by expanding the existing network of volunteers and partners throughout the country and working together during training sessions and gatherings.
The ambition: actively involving citizens in the resettlement of refugees
A special element of the covenant concerns the ambition to offer municipalities and cities an extensive resettlement service, in which groups of Dutch citizens play a concrete role in the arrival and welcoming of a refugee in their hometown. Examples would be providing accommodation, finding a GP, insurance, and an education or a job. This allows citizens to help realise safe pathways for refugees to the Netherlands.
Samen Hier coordinator Maaike Graaff: “In our experience, people of all ages and backgrounds are willing to take on responsibilities when welcoming refugees. We can benefit from that support and capacity much more than we currently do by reshaping the asylum system in the Netherlands: more local and with a larger role for citizens to facilitate the passage of refugees through safe pathways such as resettlement. I expect that together with Takecarebnb, we can build a broad movement of citizens who form a welcoming community with their family and friends, and who can and want to give refugees a good start in their new hometown from day one.’’
The Amsterdam-based Takecarebnb matches refugees with residence permits to Dutch host families. The initiative, which realises around 100 matches annually, supports guests and host families during a three-month stay in which integration and knowledge of the Dutch language receive a great boost.
Justice and Peace’s Samen Hier initiative allows citizens and their friends, neighbours, colleagues, or family members to create a ‘Welcome Group’ of five people and play an active role in the resettlement and welcoming of refugees in the Netherlands. The pilot project has been tested in Haarlem, Almere, The Hague and Rotterdam. Currently, Samen Hier is working on a network of Samen Hier cities in which citizens take responsibility to help realise safe pathways to their city.
The signing of the covenant takes place against the background of municipalities’ growing role in the Dutch asylum policy. According to the new integration act, starting July 2021 municipalities will be responsible for the integration of refugees with a residence permit.