Connected & Inclusive Amsterdam & Alkmaar Region

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.

Using the tasks arising from the introduction of the new Civic Integration Act in 2021 as guiding principles, we advise municipalities (as well as other stakeholders) on how to translate this practical knowledge into concrete policy changes, solutions and interventions to meet the needs of these communities.

We are, most importantly, creating a learning community of civil servants in the HAL-BUCH region, and thus supporting a much-needed regional cooperation.

This way, we use individual impact (answers and offers for newcomers in the region) to change the system (municipalities that have the power to improve the newcomers’ situation).

Are you new in the Netherlands?

Do you have a question about your new life in the Netherlands? Ask us!