OpenEmbassy’s help desk helps newcomers find their way in both of these regions and uses the knowledge we gather in the process to advise local governments.
Our team of experts and experienced ‘locals’ make use of their knowledge and networks to quickly and reliably answer the questions newcomers pose on the OpenEmbassy help desk. By analysing both questions and answers, we are able to get a clear picture of newcomers’ situations and use that knowledge to improve the functioning of local government and social organisations.
In Amsterdam and the Alkmaar region (or HAL-BUCH, for the letters of the local municipalities it encompasses), we have put together a special and rather promising approach consisting of the following components:
Newcomers in both regions get access to the online OpenEmbassy help desk, where they can ask questions about their new lives 24/7. These questions, in turn, get answered by experienced city—and town—dwellers who already know their way around. Questions can be practical (e.g. where to find a good doctor or to ask if someone can help translate a letter); bureaucratic (e.g. what happens when you get a job after you’ve applied for benefits, or what to do if your degree is considered less valuable here); or even serve to ask for help offline (e.g. finding someone to practice Dutch with, or finding baby clothes or toys). These are all actual questions we’ve seen in the past, which we’ve answered with help from our community.
By quantifying the interactions from our online and offline communities, we are able to create current integration ‘heat maps’ of Amsterdam and its surroundings.
Newcomers in both regions get access to OpenEmbassy's online help desk.