Click here to read an article on the visit by SHARE partner and visit participant the EUROCITIES Network.
On 4-5 February 2015, in the framework of the SHARE Network's 'SHARING through Mentoring' programme, a delegation from SHARE partner the Finnish city of Tampere travelled to the Dutch municipalities of Sittard Geleen and Maastricht to learn about the volunteering programmes of SHARE partner VluchtelingenWerk (Dutch Council for Refugees) Limburg. The Tampere delegation of 6 persons was made up of city case workers and Social Service managers working with resettled refugees, with representation from the Finnish Red Cross and the Lutheran Church in the city.
Hosted by VluchtelingenWerk Limburg and their partner political and city representatives from Sittard Geleen and Maastricht, the 2-day visit programme first provided the Finnish delegation with an overview of refugee resettlement in the province of Limburg, and the municipality-civil society partnerships that together ensure reception, integration and welcome for resettled refugees. Classroom-based presentations and discussion introduced delegates to the volunteering policy, programmes and practice of VluchtelingenWerk, both nationally and in Limburg province, including the broader national context for volunteering in the Netherlands, VluchtelingenWerk's national advocacy and campaigning on volunteering, and their regional and local approaches volunteer recruitment, training and support. Click here to view presentations given the City of Tampere and here by VluchtelingenWerk staff throughout the programme (English language presentations in one single pdf file).
Site visits in both municipalities highlighted the varied roles that VluchtelingenWerk volunteers play in refugee integration in Limburg, including as language and employment coaches (the latter within VluchtelingenWerk's long-standing Emplooi project), providers of orientation support and legal assistance, and through their involvement in awareness-raising and advocacy on refugee issues at the local level. Site visits afforded practical insight into the collaboration between paid staff and volunteers in different settings, and included opportunities to meet with previously resettled refugees who in many instances are themselves involved in volunteering with VluchtelingenWerk Limburg.
The visit took place in the framework of the SHARE Network's 'SHARING through Mentoring' programme, a thematic city exchange programme focused on volunteering in refugee resettlement. Using the methodology developed by SHARE partner the EUROCITIES network in their previous Implementoring project, 'SHARING through Mentoring' aims to gather expertise on volunteering for refugee resettlement and integration from across Europe (including that of VluchtelingenWerk Limburg), develop tools to guide the development of practice and programming and pilot these tools with the SHARE Implementing City of Tampere. The 'SHARING through Mentoring' programme began with the SHARE Network Expert Seminar on Volunteering held in Maastricht in October 2014, continued with this intensive exchange in Limburg, and will conclude with a visit by a city-civil society delegation from Limburg to Tampere to support planning for new volunteering initiatives for resettlement in the city.
Photos: Finnish delegation visiting a Dutch language class at VluchtelingenWerk Limburg (Sittard Geleen centre); asylum centre in Maastricht operated by VluchtelingenWerk, including via a team of volunteers.