New project provides rapid digital transition in the 1.5-meter society and is part of global initiative for countries affected by COVID-19

Amsterdam, September 15, 2020: Technology company 3M and non-profit organization United Way (UW) the Netherlands join forces for the project “Reaching the Unreachable”. Among other things, the project offers 60 refugees the opportunity to follow language, vocational and cultural training, with the ultimate goal of helping them find a paid job. In addition, 150 isolated elderly people are also paired with volunteers who support and maintain social contact with them, in order to improve their mental health. The project thus supports two of the most vulnerable groups in Dutch society.

The Dutch project “Reaching the Unreachable” in partnership with United Way is part of a broader 3M initiative supporting communities affected by COVID-19 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). In the Netherlands there will be support by aid projects in the areas of nutrition, mental and physical health, education and COVID-19 awareness. A total of more than 1.7 million euros have been made available by 3M for EMEA. The Netherlands is one of the twelve countries that can count on a donation of more than 120,000 euros.

The project has been going on for three months and has ensured that support for refugees and lonely elderly – who always met physically before COVID-19 – could continue during the corona crisis by quickly moving to digital sessions. With the donations from 3M and local partners, who donated laptops, for example, the partners involved were able to digitize their offerings at a rapid pace.

The first results are promising: more than 150 elderly people are already in contact with volunteers and more than 40 refugees are in the process of training or applying for a job or internship. Six refugees have now found a job and three have an internship. The project will take another three months to achieve the set goals.

“It is important that 3M remains true to its core values during this pandemic by supporting communities and improving lives,” said Marjolein van Ravenzwaaij, Country Leader at 3M Netherlands. “The projects with United Way are part of our commitment to COVID-19 aid projects in the Netherlands and around the world, and we are grateful that some of our financial support is helping vulnerable refugees and older people in the Netherlands fight poverty and loneliness in these exceptional times. “

“United Way has been active in the Netherlands since December 2018 and has been helping communities in need worldwide for more than 130 years. The scale of the corona crisis and its far-reaching consequences for people’s health, social mobility, income and job security have created new challenges for people’s well-being. The partnership with 3M helps United Way the Netherlands support vulnerable elderly and refugees in our society” said Machiel Salomons, Director at United Way the Netherlands.” Together we make a real difference to people’s quality of life, while adjusting to living with the coronavirus crisis”.

About the project

Thousands of refugees in the Netherlands are at risk of becoming victims a second time: after a forced flight from their country of origin, their chances of finding a job now seem to be drastically limited by the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. This can not only slow down their integration into Dutch society, but can also lead to depression and social isolation. ‘Reaching the Unreachable’ supports refugees with its partners Edu4u, Netwerkpro, Refugee Talent Hub and The Tent Partnership for Refugees not only in their search and preparation for a paid job with various training and courses, they are also assigned a ‘buddy’ who will continue to support the participants even after starting at the employer to help them grow in their new role. Women refugees are also supported in their search for an autonomous future and building their own professional network.

“My mentor showed me that my dreams don’t have to be dreams. Thanks to the course and support, I can finally look for a job with confidence and fully integrate into Dutch society”, said a participating refugee.

The isolated elderly are also in dire straits. Despite the relaxation of measures in the Netherlands, many of the elderly are still very lonely and long for social contact. With the support of 3M and other local partners such as Humanitas, United Way the Netherlands is able to provide that social contact: for example, at least once a week, there is physical or visual contact with volunteers, who make a difference and improve mental health.

“I signed up with some skepticism. The structure of the course is pleasant, easing into it every day, that keeps you focused, and you can implement the new lessons immediately. The theory is also enlightening. It gives you insight into the background of being lonely, so that you can place your feelings better. I would like to thank everyone for the course and the support along the way”, said a participating senior.

Read more about the project Reaching the Unreachable on our website.

For media

For additional inquiries please contact:

Liesbeth Nieuwenhuizen-Clemens

3M Netherlands

Machiel Salomons

United Way the Netherlands

About 3M

At 3M, our science is collaboratively applied every day to improve the lives of every person around the world. With nearly $32 billion in revenue, our 96,000 employees interact with customers around the world. For more information about 3M’s creative solutions to today’s global challenges, please visit or Twitter @3M or @3MNews.

About United Way

United Way Worldwide is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization based in the USA with a network spanning more than 40 countries and territories on six continents. It serves 61 million people around the world, supported by 2.9 million volunteers and 8.3 million donors.

United Way the Netherlands was founded in December 2018 to bring a lasting, positive change in local Dutch communities. Our broad aim is to help families achieve their potential through successful integration of vulnerable refugees, support for isolated seniors and financial stability for adolescent youth.

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