Bart Somers makes buddies mandatory for non-European immigrants: 10,000 volunteers needed

Bart Somers makes buddies mandatory for non-European immigrants: 10,000 volunteers needed
Bart Somers makes buddies mandatory for non-European immigrants: 10,000 volunteers needed

Minister of Integration Bart Somers (Open VLD) makes buddy’s compulsory for non-European immigrants and is looking for 10,000 Flemish people who want to help newcomers.

Tom De Smet

Today at 20:14

The Flemish civic integration program is mandatory for all non-European newcomers of age. It consists of Dutch lessons, a social orientation course (which includes our standards and values), and a compulsory registration with the VDAB. A fourth aspect will be added from 1 January, Bart Somers announced on Thursday evening in The table of four: 40 hours of riding with a Flemish buddy. There were already pilot projects in this area, which yielded positive results, so that they will now be rolled out throughout Flanders.

The Somers cabinet is aiming for 10,000 buddies, because there are also 10,000 non-European immigrants. Newcomers from within the European Union are exempt, but they also sometimes opt for a buddy program to strengthen their social network. The minister launches the website mybuddy.be. People can apply for it. After a screening, they are matched with an integration candidate. And then? “The buddies can decide that themselves,” says Somers. “Maybe you’ll work out together, plan a trip or meet up for a weekly chat over coffee. The most important thing is that you see each other regularly and that your buddy partner gets the chance to ask questions, get to know life in the neighborhood and speak Dutch.”

No compensation

According to Somers, the pilot projects teach that a very broad spectrum of people can apply to become a buddy. “You would think that it would mainly be more progressive people, but people with a different profile would also like to get involved, because it is important to them that the newcomer understands the language and the rules of the game in our society.”

No compensation is provided, it is voluntary work. So why become a buddy? “You get to know someone you might never have come into contact with otherwise. Who knows, you might end up with a friend for life.”

One of the buddies from the Mechelen pilot project is Xandra Hedeman. She was linked to the young Turkish Seda Tanirak. “The buddy project enriches your view of the world,” she says. “You do something for others and at the same time you enjoy fun activities, such as our common hobbies, cooking and shopping. It requires no effort. It even gives you energy.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Bart Somers buddies mandatory nonEuropean immigrants volunteers needed

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