Today, July 9th we organised a meeting on our unaccompanied youth refugees project. The aim was to provide deep information and work on its strategies and challenges. In line with United Way’s values, the Amsterdam office was able to bring together for the first time three key partners: donors, operational partners, and refugees.

In a friendly atmosphere, we sat down to a welcoming and presentation speech of United Way the Netherlands and its three projects. Followed by an in-depth explanation of the unaccompanied youth refugee project by our project coordinator, who experienced first-hand the challenges of a life in Amsterdam as a young refugee from Syria. Throughout his speech, it became clear that experience is crucial to foster deep understanding of the needs and ways to reach these youngsters, and for the smooth functioning of the project. Indeed, the real challenge is to motivate them to ensure a commitment to the job or internship we plan on finding them at the end of the program.

Following was a presentation from our marvellous host and partner, Humanitas, on their experience on youth empowerment. Humanitas is one of the main social services and community building organisations in the Netherlands and has a lot of knowledge in helping youngsters get out of difficult situations. Then the Regenboog group shared their expertise on supporting unaccompanied minors in Amsterdam and showed us an insightful video on their one-on-one mentoring system that prevents social exclusion by making sure mentors give a few hours a week to their mentee to do activities.

We then set up a group discussion to get input on the identification of the target group and strategies to reach them. Thanks to the marvellous implication of our partners we received amazing ideas. They emphasized on the importance of social media, peer groups and associations working closely with these refugees to reach them and let them know about our program. Consequently, word-of-mouth will help identify potential participants. It was agreed that close mentoring was indispensable to foster commitment and prevent dropouts. Another important factor to maintain motivation throughout was to ensure the project was subdivided into smaller achievable milestones with increasing responsibility, and ideally financial reward. Furthermore, two working days a week were deemed to be the minimum to ensure significant progress. A more tailor-made approach will provide flexibility to address practical issues linked to availability. There should be a port of call within each company where the participants can raise any issue encountered during the placement. Intercultural awareness was seen as essential in the good development of the project. It was agreed that cultural awareness is generally part and parcel of large Dutch companies.

Thanks to the years of experience of our partners, we can say that the meeting was a great success overall. We left with many new ideas and the motivation to implement them! In conclusion, this meeting was very efficient.

Many thanks to the members that were very implicated in the discussion!

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