Workshop: Care in/about refugee support in Rotterdam

Picture: Mark van Ostaijen

On April 26th, a number of academics, practitioners, and students shuffled into the Leeszaal in Rotterdam West to engage in a workshop that would talk us through the work of small-scale refugee-led grassroots initiatives that support more recent refugees.

An unexpectedly sunny day, attendees were greeted with nametags at the door and hastily took their seats as the organizer and anthropologist of policy, LDE GMD's Lieke van der Veer, opened the floor.

Lieke's ethnographic Ph.D. research explored start-up organizations in Rotterdam set up for and by people with refugee backgrounds. Her research was part of a bigger project at Radboud University led by Martijn Koster. Lieke studied the 'infrastructure' of support and advocacy for and by newcomers. During her long-term field research, she accompanied these organizations to different meetings they had and observed the relationships they maintained—be it with people working in refugee advocacy, established organizations, government officials, or informal advisors who helped them shape their support organization.

The aim of the workshop was to exchange experiences about the themes from Lieke's research. After taking attendees briefly through her findings, Lieke gave the floor to different initiators, participants, policy officers, advocates, and academics to present their work and ambitions. Representatives from the Municipality of Rotterdam, Erasmus University, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University, Het Wijkpaleis, Rotterdam Verwelkomt Vluchtelingen, Lemat, and Mano were present.

Different talking points emerged from the discussions and presentations: including the different challenges many of these organizations face when seeking support. Different integration projects, such as the SPRING project were presented and gathered quite a bit of interest.

The four-hour programme was concluded with some delicious food and drinks, courtesy of De Wereldvrouwen.