Currently, SSH houses refugees in self-contained accommodation which gives them little contact with others. So it’s up to them to find their way in a strange, new city. Of course, this scenario is familiar to any student when they leave home for the first time. Now, by bringing these two groups together, student refugees can find their feet in their new city faster – and both groups of students get to learn about each other's cultures.
The pilot scheme
The ‘Student Refugee Community’ pilot project is an experiment being conducted by SSH in conjunction with Academy City (‘Academie van de Stad’) in which 18-23 year old refugees with a residence permit get to live in regular student accommodation. Under the scheme, both the refugee and the student who is already in the accommodation get the choice whether they want to live together. A ‘Community Builders’ team from Academy City has been put in place to oversee the project and help shape the new communities.
How does it work?
Are you and your housemates interested in sharing your student house with a refugee? If you have a room to spare, please sign up by emailing KamersUtrecht@sshxl.nl. We will then ask you for some more information in order to make a good match between you and the refugee. So, for instance we’ll send you a list of questions about what it’s like living in your place so we can give refugees an impression of what it’s going to be like living there. After that, VluchtelingenWerk and Academy City will find a good match among their registered refugees. After an initial interview to check if the refugee makes a good fit with the accommodation being offered and to verify that they can speak English, you will then get to meet them at your property. If it all ‘clicks’ between you then we’ll set you up as housemates.
What is expected of me as a housemate?
The expectations are just the same as for any other new resident. It's really up to you! Perhaps you would arrange to eat together sometimes – but remember that your new house guest won’t speak much Dutch so you’ll need to do most things in English.
What do the ‘Community Builders’ do?
The Community Builders are a team of socially-minded students who work to help integrate the young refugees. They will attend the introductory discussions and build a network between students and refugees. In addition, they are the first point of contact for both the household and the refugees and will organize social activities.
SSH is the body responsible for using student accommodation for the scheme while Academy City (‘Academie van de Stad’) is responsible for coordinating the project. Other partners include VluchtelingenWerk, Nidos, COA and the Utrecht municipal council.