On 12-13 September 2013, the SHARE City Exchange Visit Programme took a delegation of 10 participants from Belgium and the Netherlands to visit the UK resettlement programme. The delegation included 3 participants from Belgium and 7 from the Netherlands, drawn from the following organisations and institutions:
- Caritas International Belgium - NGO offering reception services for asylum seekers, integration support for recognised refugees, specliaist support for unaccompanied minors and a family reunification service. Click here to download a copy of the joint presentation given by Caritas & the OCMW in Wetteren.
- OCMW – openbaar centrum voor maatschappelijk welzijn - 'public centres for social welfare' present in every Belgian municipality and accessible to all persons legally residing in Belgium. OCMWs provide housing, financial aid, administrative support, certain forms of integration and other support and integration services, and are a key local partner in the Belgian resettlement programme. Click here to download a copy of the presentation given by Zaventem's OCMW in Sheffield.
- Dutch Council for Refugees (VluchtelingenWerk Nederlands) - NGO with 12 regional offices, 310 local branches and 1 national office, active in 90% of all local council districts in the Netherlands and with more than 6,000 volunteers and 600 paid employees. VluchtelingenWerk Nederlands offers refugees practical support during their asylum procedure and for their integration into Dutch society, and provides integration support for resettled refugees. They also advocate at the national level regarding refugee issues and policy, and actively lobby for refugee rights. Click here to download a copy of the presentation given by the Dutch Council for Refugees.
- Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF) - NGO providing financial and other support to refugees and asylum seekers wishing to study in the Netherlands, including resettled refugees. This support consists of scholarships and contributions towards the cost of studies, individual advice and guidance by student counsellors, support to graduated UAF students in finding employment, and advice to governmental and educational institutions about suitable paths for higher educated refugees. UAF works in partnership with the Dutch government to provide pathways into higher education for resettled refugees. Click here to download a copy of the presentation given by UAF in Sheffield.
- Municipality of Zaanstad (NL) - is responsible for coordinating reception arrangements for refugees, including finding housing, and providing income and support during the first period in Zaanstad. This is organised in partnership with social housing corporations and the Dutch Council for Refugees. Click here to learn more about the municipality of Zaanstad.
On the morning of Day 1 of the programme, the delegation met with the city of Sheffield and its local resettlement partners to learn about the UK's resettlement programme, the towns and cities in which it takes place and the roles of the different organisations involved in its operation. The visiting delegates gave presentations about the work of their organisations, the current political context in their respective cities and countries, and the activities and integration strategies and services aimed for asylum seekers and refugees. On the afternoon of Day 1, the delegation split into 2 groups for site visits to a local school working with resettled pupils, and to housing provided for resettled refugees. The day concluded with a civic reception and a screening of the documentary film ‘Moving to Mars’ that follows two Karen families resettled from Thailand to Sheffield in 2007.
On the afternoon of Day 2, the delegation travelled to Manchester where they were hosted by Refugee Action, the lead NGO partner in the resettlement programme in the North West of England. Delegates were given an overview of the resettlement programme operating in the North West of England, including pre-arrival planning, and reception and orientation. Delegates were then introduced to the multiagency & partnership working of the resettlement programme and the different roles of the stakeholders involved. The day concluded with a session on the different activities that Refugee Action undertake as part of their community development programme, as well as a discussion of the importance of volunteering for the integration support provided to resettled refugees.