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The Netherlands

Providing vital structured support to refugee children in the Netherlands


More than one million migrants arrived in Europe during 2015 - marking the beginning of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’. Governments across the continent struggled to cope with the numbers of people arriving from conflict-affected countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of people have continued to make the journey to Europe in the years since - not all of whom have survived. A significant proportion of these refugees are children forced to undertake arduous journeys in search of safety. These children experience significant stress and instability and require specialised support.

The Netherlands has welcomed tens of thousands of asylum seekers since the refugee crisis began in 2015. By the end of 2016 some 8,000 refugee children were being housed in asylum centres across the Netherlands. The children in the reception centres in the Netherlands come from various countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq. 


TeamUp was launched in 2016 as a collaboration between War Child, Save the Children and UNICEF. The project was designed to meet the urgent needs of refugee children who have arrived in the Netherlands - in particular their social and emotional needs. In their countries of origin and during their journey they have been exposed to (war) violence, abuse and many stressful situations. Unfortunately, the uncertainty and stress these children experience does not end once they arrive in the Netherlands. Here, children often have to move from shelter to shelter, and they are separated from friends and teachers. Also they feel the anxiety of parents engaged in asylum procedures. 
TeamUp provides children in asylum centres aged between six and eighteen with structured activities, such as sport, music and dance. These activities help provide children with emotional support and a much-needed sense of stability. By running the sessions at a fixed time during the week, facilitated by the same team according to a fixed structure, we create a sense of stability and provide something the children can look forward to on a weekly basis.

They build new friendships, learn to trust each other and have fun. Thereby providing opportunities to alleviate stress and negative experiences. The TeamUp programme is currently active in eight asylum centers across the Netherlands. Some 500 children are now taking part in our activities. We will work to expand TeamUp to both more locations in the Netherlands. Additionally, we are developing a TeamUp method for schools - ‘TeamUp in School’. The upcoming year we will work together with a number of schools in the Netherlands to see how the TeamUp approach and methodology can be used for refugee children in the class room. The focus is on developing materials and tools for the teachers in schools. We believe that TeamUp can even support integration.