Our new, broad-based mentoring programme in collaboration with the Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent), is aimed at economic integration for Ukrainian refugees. It constitutes yet another way to improve the lives of Ukrainian women.

United Way the Netherlands’ project Home from Home, which created the Ukrainian Women Refugees Association (UWRA), was structured to be scalable and follow the needs of its participants. From the start, we have been working with corporate partners, and at the end of September a well thought-out mentoring programme was presented. At Combiwell, the community centre where the women meet regularly, the programme was explained in detail to the participants of the programme. Ahead of this event, the mentees had already been matched with mentors drawn from four large international corporations in the Netherlands.

Corporate commitment
Having already developed a number of mentorship programs that pair corporate mentors with refugee mentees, our long-time partner Tent – a global business network of over 260 companies committed to hiring, training, mentoring, and otherwise supporting refugees’ economic integration – played an important part in getting the mentoring programme off the ground.

At the meeting, Tent’s Hélène van Melle, Deputy Director Europe, explained how this mentoring programme, which is part of a larger programme for refugee women, implemented in ten European countries, can help open the door to the Dutch labour market for Ukrainian refugees. This was followed by introductions by representatives of the corporate participants in this programme. All are prominent companies with a worldwide reputation: Philips (healthcare), Randstad (employment agency), Adidas (sports products), Google (web) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS, part of the Tata group).

Once the mentors and mentees had met, they sat down in pairs for an initial session about their backgrounds and ambitions. As soon as they got talking, there was a buzz of enthusiasm in the air. Both sides were clearly inspired to start working together and adding an extra dimension to their lives.

The corporate representatives were equally enthusiastic. Speaking for TCS, Roy Sharon, head of CSR for Europe, said that now that the basic needs of most Ukrainian refugees have been satisfied, their economic integration needs to be taken in hand. He expressed the hope that the programme will continue to evolve. Randstad’s Marianne van de Fliert, who has mobilized trainees within her organization to act as mentors, feels that the six months- foreseen to complete the programme will be a minimum timeframe Anastazja Kolcowa, a senior manager and mentor from Adidas, is keen to get involved. “I see the mentoring as a great opportunity to engage with refugees who have recently arrived in the Netherlands.” For Philips, last but not least, we had a chat with Ralitsa Hadzhieva, leading the company’s refugee programme, and who was standing in for a mentor who couldn’t be there. She said Philips has committed to, and is hiring refugees. Ralitsa: “The interest in mentoring is huge. Improving people’s lives is so important. As for me, my contribution will not end when we fulfill our commitment.

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