In the previous journal we already commented that the reception centre for asylum seekers in the Overvecht district had to close down, but the project model was adapted to a new centre in Haydn's neighbourhood, albeit with some changes.
The positive impact of the project resulted in this adaptation to a new centre, financed with its own funds without the need for funding from the UIA Initiative.
This is a neighbourhood with different characteristics from Overvecht, where there were few social and cultural resources and facilities. Haydn's neighbourhood is much more dynamic with an important social and cultural offer and where many local and active actors and organisations are present.
The profile of the asylum seekers is also different from that of the Overvecht centre, where most of them came from Syria and also had a good chance of getting a residence permit. At Haydn, asylum-seekers come from a wide range of countries, including Afghanistan, Venezuela, Yemen and other African countries. Another difference is that the processing of applications is now taking longer and the time spent in the centre can be as long as a year, whereas in the previous centre the average was four months.
Another big difference is that this centre is owned by COA and this has also limited the possibilities of adapting some aspects of the project approach. At the moment the SOCIUS youngsters cannot live in this centre and the open and common space is in the attic and is less accessible.
However, despite these limitations, the project approach has been able to adapt to the new context, and new opportunities that were not in Overvecht are being taken advantage of.
A very good sign is that most of the project partners are still involved in this new phase, and new partners have joined, and this allows continuity and the use of the know-how generated and the adaptation of activities to the lessons learned.
Training sessions in English and in entrepreneurship are taking place normally and with a lot of participation, especially in the English courses. The activities promoted by the Social Impact Factory for mentoring and coaching are also being consolidated and adapted to the new context.
But surely the main change in this new phase of the project is that if in Overvecht the social and cultural activities that promoted the meeting and collaboration spaces were done in the centre itself or in the surroundings to attract the residents of a neighbourhood with little offer of this type, in Haydn it is the opposite. In this neighbourhood there is a lot of activity, and the strategy of the project managers is to encourage asylum seekers to go outside the centre and participate with the neighbours in activities in different spaces and socio-cultural facilities in the neighbourhood.
The project has increased the number and variety of activities through the creation of alliances with new partners. This variety in the range of activities on offer means that asylum seekers find more options related to their interests and profiles, from cultural and creative activities (theatre, music, design...) to sports, gardening, or the development of practical skills in other fields.
There are various hubs or centres of cultural dynamism in the neighbourhood, most of which are linked to cultural and social entities that promote meetings and socialisation between asylum seekers and neighbours.
This community dimension based on linking asylum seekers to the neighbourhood environment by finding common interests with the neighbours is being the main strategy of this phase, as well as the adaptation of activities to the new context and profiles. For example, activities are being planned for residents with different profiles and education levels, focusing specially to engage women. A lot of work is also being done with the older population of the neighbourhood, a group specially affected by COVID, with some asylum seekers providing support on daily and practical activities. Also, the project is taking advantage of the social dynamism offered by different spaces, such as churches or theatre organisations.