People for People receives a donation of nearly half a million euros from its entrepreneurial founders to continue supporting people escaping conflict and seeking refuge in the Netherlands. Ali Niknam (bunq), Robert Vis (MessageBird), and new angel investor John Caspers (ex-Adyen) believe that supporting an entrepreneurial foundation like People for People, whose aim is to adapt and change according to the needs of people, is the way forward during a crisis.
The blog below shares People for People’s key learnings during the last 6 months of 2022. Most importantly, it tells how we were able to impact 12.000 lives with our adaptable mindset, through the hard work of volunteers, and with the support of our generous partners and donors. As an organization, People for People was created in a true entrepreneurial spirit. Rather than staying fixed, we aim to change and adapt along with the needs of people in crisis.
In the coming year we will host a minimum of 18 Rolling Aid events, deliver essential aid to those who need it most, and continue to adapt to crisis situations in the Netherlands. Do you want to join as a business partner or volunteer? Contact us today and make a difference in the lives of refugees in the Netherlands. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Commitment to support all nationalities
While People for People was initially started to support those seeking refuge from the Ukrainian War, we soon realized that there were many more people escaping conflicts across the globe who needed our support. The Foundation quickly evolved to support all nationalities seeking refuge in the Netherlands.
At People for People, we vow to focus on what unites us, regardless of people’s background. We believe that we, as entrepreneurs, can adapt quickly to changing circumstances, take action on behalf of those escaping conflict and mobilize our resources where, when and as long as they are needed.
As the Foundation continues to evolve and grow, we have gone through several iterations and collected key learnings that will help us make a stronger impact moving forward.
Act and adapt based on needs
Based on feedback from the Foundation’s participating volunteers, partners and our own experience on the ground, it’s clear that agile, fast-moving volunteer groups are essential to address ongoing needs and close the gaps through collective action.
Last year has shown us that, in crisis situations, it’s critical to act quickly and be willing to adapt. When asylum seekers were forced to sleep outside the reception center in Ter Apel, we were able to quickly mobilize a team of volunteers to help. In 24 hours, we organized 1,000 emergency hygiene packages and blankets for those without access to showers and beds.
Children were unable to attend school because they lacked school supplies and a winter jacket. We were able to fill 490 backpacks and delivered 25.000 kilos of winter clothing. When children had to wait in the rain outside the registration center in Ter Apel, we immediately found a partner and organized a bus to provide shelter.
What helps make us so effective is our connections with different stakeholders. We are in continuous contact with location managers, NGOs and residents who give us insights into what’s actually happening and needed on the ground. This allows us to assess the most pressing needs and quickly change course again.
Bring on new partners and donors
Early on we realized that many organizations and individuals wanted to contribute to those in need but often weren’t sure how to help. We also saw that what was most requested from reception centers were essential supplies such as winter clothing, hygiene products, school supplies and laptops.
To tackle our supply needs, we began reaching out to large organizations in the Netherlands. Action, Otrium, Lidl, Bever Sport, Tony’s Chocolonely, Babe Food, Sintvoorieder1, Pouw Vervoer and many others answered the call, which resulted in 65,000 supplies and gifts being donated.
In addition to physical supplies, we also tapped into our networks for partners that could help with strategy, office space, volunteers and even a little fun. These partners were Young Colfield, Aimforthemoon and individuals that contributed talents like design, blogging and project management. The creativity and outflow of support has been instrumental in making our energetic foundation run smoothly, and contributes to the evolving support for asylum seekers.
Introducing rolling aid convoy support
Last year, we wanted to gain a better understanding of the needs and wishes of the residents and staff working in reception locations. We felt the best way to do this was to personally visit the sites and speak to people one-on-one. We were able to visit 25 emergency shelters and gathered important insights into living conditions, what they needed, and their dreams for the future.
During these conversations, we learned that young adults and children had been waiting months for their asylum process to get started. They are bored and want to have purpose and independence. At many crisis and temporary shelters the locations don’t provide cooking facilities and they miss cooking for themselves and the memories of warmth, family, and friends that home cooked meals evoke. We decided to combine both worlds into what we call the Rolling Aid Convoy.
For example, at one Rolling Aid event in Vierhouten that houses 80 unaccompanied boys between the ages of 14-18 we organized a program to fit their needs. The day started with small group discussions to prepare the boys to start school for the first time in the Netherlands. A Syrian chef prepared lunch together with the boys, football games commenced, winter and sport clothes were distributed via a pop-up shop and the day ended with traditional dancing. There were so many moments of togetherness, laughter, and learning new things.
We host the Rolling Aid events because they provide a day full of fun, togetherness and participation. It’s a place to get to know different cultures and share Dutch culture with people who want to make the Netherlands their new home. To date, we’ve prepared and shared 625 traditional meals, we’ve donated much-needed supplies and organized activities. At the last Rolling Aid event, one volunteer received a text message from a boy in Dutch.
I had a very fun day and I really hope to repeat it. What I love the most about the day was your open mind and passion to make us happy. Thanks a lot. You gave me the feeling as if you are my mother.Unaccompanied minor aged 17, living in Vierhouten, emergency shelter
Provide opportunities for people to give back
Volunteers are the heart of the People for People team. They bring energy, strength and creativity to all our projects big and small.
So far, 490 volunteers have contributed their time to: pack school bags, drive our Rolling Aid van to different shelter locations across the country, sort clothes, organize events and activities for the residents and, most of all, make them feel welcome and hopeful about building a new life in the Netherlands. The volunteer team helps us to solve problems with creative solutions. They are the reason we can be a foundation that listens and connects with people in a meaningful way.
This is also what makes volunteering with People for People, not just impactful, but also fun. Friends work side by side in our office unloading pallets or handing out Sinterklaas gifts to children. Relationships are formed with Syrian translators who come to our events and help bridge conversations cross culturally. And lots of laughs are shared when volunteers are pulled into a traditional dance during our Rolling Aid Convoy.
We are happy and proud that our founders have committed another year of investment into the work at People for People. With this donation, we can continue to impact lives and adapt if needs change.Marcella Simons, Foundation Director, People for People
We are also looking for more organizations to sponsor with People for People throughout the year to help us broaden our impact and meet future needs.
To join our growing list of impact partners, or to have a chat with our director, please email email@example.com.