learn. cooperate. enjoy

Tandem is an initiative to get refugees, asylum-seekers and organisations learning, working and growing together. 

 

What is Tandem?

Tandem was set up to help and support refugees and asylum-seekers residing in Belgium. We aim to facilitate their opportunities to contribute to the community, and support the restoration of their dignity and autonomy through initially short-term volunteer placements at different organisations. Tandem also aims to bring the direct experience of individual refugees and asylum-seekers and the challenges facing them into NGOs. These organisations are often concerned about the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers but may not have identified opportunities to support directly individuals in their local areas.

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How it helps

HOW DOES TANDEM HELP HOST ORGANISATIONS?

 

Supporting Your Role In Integration Work

Many people working in NGOs care deeply about the difficult situation facing refugees and asylum-seekers but are often unsure as to how to make a meaningful contribution at the local, Brussels level. This initiative aims to facilitate this contribution and enable the NGOs to play a part in the integration and support of individuals.

 

Bringing new perspectives to your work

Often, these organisations are working at the ‘macro’ level on migration and asylum issues: the perspectives that a Tandem volunteer could bring to the work you are doing may benefit your organisation and staff and could feed into research, policy and advocacy work.

 

Engaging a volunteer under this initiative could also provide an opportunity to develop links with the home countries of the refugees/asylum-seekers, and identify partners/contacts in those countries.

 

Increasing your capacity

Engaging a Tandem volunteer will provide organisations with additional volunteer capacity to meet their objectives and in some cases help to identify new ones.

HOW DOES TANDEM HELP REFUGEES & ASYLUM-SEEKERS?

 

Offering opportunities and supporting autonomy

Many refugees and asylum-seekers are eager to work, contribute and give back to the Brussels community. Despite this, they are often stuck in reception centres with little structure to their day, and facing a lack of opportunities. Volunteering may help to restore their sense of self-worth and their dignity, crucial to their individual well-being and health, but also valuable in their path to rebuilding their lives here in Belgium.

 

After arriving in Belgium, many refugees and asylum-seekers often find it very hard to build a network of contacts and friends. Such a network is vital to get support, advice and to access employment opportunities, and for general well-being. Volunteering with European-level NGOs will enable refugees and asylum-seekers to meet and engage with new people - many of whom are themselves migrants to Belgium - benefit from their experiences, and establish and widen their social networks.


 

Supporting change-makers

Engagement with your organisation may also support the capacity of individuals to work for change/reconstruction in their countries of origin.

Here are just some of the great organisations that have already hosted Tandem volunteers.

Sign up here to join this growing family!

 

Get involved

Are you from an NGO/non-profit?

Thanks for your interest in hosting a Tandem volunteer! Before we get started, we'll need a little info from you...

 Sign up to host here!

NGO Info Sheet - English​

Are you a refugee or asylum-seeker?

Thanks for your interest in becoming a Tandem volunteer! Here you can sign up and let us

know more about your skills and experience...

Sign up to volunteer here!

Refugees Info Sheet - English

Contact us at eleonora.andriolo[at]cev.be

 

Tandem Stories

Planning makes perfect: Majd and EuroACE

 

 

Majd Janat completed a placement with EuroACE, the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Majd is a mechanical engineer from Syria who graduated 14th in his class at Aleppo University in 2013. He has several years of work experience in Syria and Iraq and was a great fit for this placement.

The EuroACE team, including Adrian, Iva, and Caroline, were all very supportive and engaged before, during, and after Majd’s placement, working closely with him to plan the placement in line with his career interests. They held a Skype call and an in-person meeting before the placement started. This helped them to get the maximum benefit of the two weeks they had together. As Majd writes in his testimonial: “Despite…the short period, it was more than a great experience for me…EuroACE was very supportive. Now I know exactly where I am standing at the job market in Belgium and what skills I have to improve in the near future.”

At the end of the placement, EuroACE provided Majd with a recommendation letter for his future employer. They have also introduced him to many of their members and supported his participation in EUSEW and Eurodesk conference activities.

Building these professional relationships and skills is a critical part of the Tandem mission. We thank EuroACE and Majd for their careful preparation and we wish them all great success in their future endeavors!

Testimonials

Fady

“The professional contacts I made within 10 days on placement is more than what I have made on the last 2 years. Tandem is perfect in matching skills and organizations in need.

[My advice to future Tandem volunteers:] Don’t ever say no. Just go for it and no one knows what future is hiding”

Fady volunteered with Caritas Belgium.

Caritas Belgium

“Tandem volunteer = great, talented and motivated people! A unique opportunity to meet, learn, share, discover!  Thank you!”

Caritas Belgium (Bruxelles)

Majd

4 July 2017

“In the last two weeks, I had the chance to work as a volunteer in EuroACE, the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings. It is an association that does work about which I was not aware before I started.

Despite this and the short period, it was more than a great experience for me. It helped me to improve my language and communication skills; I read an intresting study about energy efficiency and technical building systems (this is relevant to my experience as an engineer) and I made a lot of business contacts which can help me later to get a job.

I attended a very important conference about energy efficiency in the European Commission and learned a lot about the subject of energy efficiency, which I found really interesting.

The great team of EuroACE was very supportive. Now I know exactly where I am standing at the job market in Belgium and what skills I have to improve in the near future.

I am really grateful for this experience. Thank you very very much Tandem.”

Majd volunteered at EuroACE in June 2017


 

TADA

4 July 2017

“Tahir was a great help: hard worker, ready to assist with everything and to go the extra mile. He had large trips in the morning and evening to make it to our office, but we are very glad he made them because without him our move would not have been this smooth!

[The Tandem] process runs very smooth and there is follow up where and when required!”

TADA – Toekomst Atelier De l’Avenir


 

COFACE Families Europe

4 July 2017

“It was truly a win-win for both [our volunteer and us], and it triggered much discussion in our team….We would encourage Brussels-based organisations to sign up to host short-term placements – Tandem cannot function without the support and involvement of good hosts.”

COFACE Families Europe


 

HOPE

6 June 2017

“Hosting a Tandem volunteer was an incredibly rewarding experience. We learned a lot from Najeem, both professionally and from a personal point of view. Given his knowledge of IT and design, we could get to know new programmes and useful tips to use in the future. Also, knowing about his country, culture and history, about his personal life experiences and about what refugees have to go through during their journey to Europe is something I wish everyone could do. Najeem was always very open and ready to reply to our questions, he was friendly and funny too. In other words, he made us richer and we hope to have the chance to meet him again in the future.”

Najeem

26 May 2017

“I would like to thank the Tandem team for the opportunity you gave me to use my skills again and feel like a productive member of society, which gave me the motivation to even work harder for a brighter future.”

Najeem volunteered with HOPE in April-May 2017.

Wassim

23 May 2017

“A refugee is not an invalid person, he could be productive in the new society that receives him; just give him the opportunity. I think your project Tandem with the refugees will let them prove that.

I need to thank Tandem for this initiative, and all their support and efforts that they make to help us newcomers (the refugees ones), introducing and integrating us to the society. Through Tandem, organizations understand that we have our talents, backgrounds and knowledge to share, although it is not easy to find a job and get integrated. Tandem tries to facilitate all these obstacles and find linguistic and financial arrangements, which make us practice the language and make a new communication network and renew our self-esteem and improve our competences.
To EDGE Funders Alliance represented by Luciana and Tobias and their colleagues in other parts of the world, I cannot find the words to thank them, all their efforts to help me to take maximum of experience, present me to their colleagues from other organizations and to help me on my job search; they created a friendly and trustful environment that makes you comfortable, in spite of the short time of 2 weeks. Their welcoming and helpful method gives the desire to stay with them and it is really difficult to leave.

Thanks for every one in Tandem and EDGE Funders Alliance with all their team.”

Wassim volunteered with the EDGE Funders Alliance in spring 2017.

EDGE Funders Alliance

23 May 2017

“Hosting a Tandem volunteer was rewarding because of the exchange and learning the experience allows. It is an opportunity to understand and reflect on the deep systemic crises we live in.”

EDGE Funders Alliance
 

CEPS

3 May 2017

“CEPS had a very good experience with the Tandem. The team did a great job by selecting a candidate, whose profile matched perfectly our activities. We also received all the necessary explanations regarding the administrative procedures (which turned out to be very easy).”

CEPS


 

Seas at Risk

3 May 2017

“Atheer joined Seas At Risk for a two weeks voluntary experience. Since he has skills in video editing, we tasked him with making a video during a workshop we organised in this period. He had the chance to join a role game with the ± 30 international participants to understand in a practical way the complexity of the work our NGO is engaged in. Seas At Risk would like to thank Tandem for providing NGOs with such a concreate opportunity to actively play a role in the integration of refugees. As an environmental NGO we are close to the problems of the environment but we are also very sensitive to big current societal challenges such as the refugees. We feel that our society is not doing enough to welcome and integrate refugees and we found the Tandem opportunity as an option to give our small contribution despite our little resources and open a window on a different world. The tandem experience helped Seas At Risk team to feel closer to the refugees’ world and to better understand the challenges a refugee has to face. This experience also helped build bridges among two different cultures.”

Seas At Risk

Wali

7 April 2017

“Tandem opened my way to international organizations and enabled me to get the opportunity and show my abilities to my hosting organization, where later I received an offer to continue working with them. I highly recommend Tandem to the other refugees and asylum seekers.”

Wali volunteered with CEPS in March 2017.


 

Abdallah

29 March 2017

“It was a great period because [I was] able to use my skills and experience again in the work.”

Abdallah volunteered with ECAS in March 2017


 

ECAS

29 March 2017

“Hosting a Tandem volunteer was enriching for ECAS. The volunteer was enthusiastic and motivated to be part of our team. We enjoyed his cooperation and he provided us with a fresh and different perspective on several parts of our activities. In addition, the Tandem team was extremely supportive in all the phases of the experience.”

ECAS

 

CEV

1 March 2017

“We thank Abdulkader for his support and were very happy to have him as part of the team!”

Gabriella Civico, Director


 

Friends of the Earth Europe

1 March 2017

“It was great having Nader in our comms team. He had never done communications work before so it was sometimes quite overwhelming for him, but he managed to have a good overview of our work – something that can take several months for anyone joining our team. He also created the sixth episode of our Real World Radio Europe podcast on water issues in Bosnia Herzegovina which can be listened to here. In an ideal world, we would have Nader again to do a new episode and practice a bit more his social media skills. We will have to see how things go in the future.”

Communications Team, Friends of the Earth Europe

Emad

1 March 2017

“Tandem is the right way to integrate yourself in the work market. Its the launch start towards achieving your ambition.”

Emad volunteered with WindEurope in Feb 2017.


 

Hani

1 March 2017

“I would like to thank Tandem team who gave me this chance to have a new experience and gain good skills.

Hani volunteered with WindEurope in Feb 2017.


 

Hanadi

1 March 2017

“For me personally, the first day I was stressed but with the kindness and support that I got from the WindEurope team and Tandem team I could introduce myself, my skills and my knowledge. I hope that I could give a good impression about Tandem and myself, and I wish I could do it again.”

Hanadi volunteered with WindEurope in Feb 2017.

Ahmad

1 March 2017

“Tandem is such a great initiative run by wonderful people. I recommend joining Tandem for every refugee.”

Ahmad volunteered with the British Council in Feb 2017.


 

Nader

1 March 2017

“This message is filled with words of thanks and appreciation, to express the sincerity of feelings inside me and my gratitude, and is directed to Friends of the Earth Europe and Tandem volunteering. Thank you very much.”

Nader volunteered with Friends of the Earth Europe in Feb 2017.


 

Ibaida

14 February 2017

“It was a great experience – I loved the work with IPPF EN. The staff and the administration were very kind and very sympathetic, and I am very thankful to them. I am sad that it was a short period with them and would have liked it to be longer than two weeks.

I like how Tandem is working, and appreciate the support that Tandem has given me. I see Tandem is a successful organization, and hope it can improve more and be even more successful.”

Ibaida volunteered with the IPPF European Network in Jan/Feb 2017.

 

Bashar

13 February 2017

“I spent two weeks with 11.11.11 and I accepted the volunteer placement despite all the challenges that I’ve faced. But the support that I found with 11.11.11 was unlimited and heartfelt…this volunteer placement has given me hope for a new life with real Belgium people who still have the ideology of freedom and democracy and who are still looking at other people in other countries as part of humanity.”

Bashar volunteered with 11.11.11 in Dec 2016


 

11.11.11

13 February 2017

“Working with a Tandem volunteer was certainly very beneficial for 11.11.11. For our work on the Middle East it is key to have Syrians around who have a deep knowledge on the local context, who speak Arabic and who can reach out to their personal contacts inside Syria. The Tandem volunteer provided us with many useful personal insights on Syria, and allowed us to reach out more directly to people inside Syria.”

Willem Staes, Policy Officer Middle East and North Africa

Mohamad B

10 December 2016

 

“It was an exciting experience, I met brilliant people at ILGA-Europe, they helped me a lot. I had a great opportunity to improve my English, to [be] involve[d] in [a] team work environment that I missed from [when] I was in Syria, and to get knowledge of preparation for conference event activities.

I would like to thank ILGA-Europe for this opportunity, I’m very happy that I helped a little bit.

I would like to thank [the] Tandem team for their effort, and I’m ready to join another volunteering job again.”

Mohamad volunteered at ILGA-Europe in Oct/Nov 2016.


 

Mohamad A

10 December 2016

”The atmosphere was very friendly I have learned a lot, and it was a very good opportunity to see how administrations works in Europe and in Belgium particularly speaking. to add more, working with different international back ground colleges was very nice and enhanced my perspective and my experience, and if they said that its no more needed to extend my contract I’m looking to repeat the experiment with another NGO as I found it very important opportunity to build networks, and connect to people and learn new skills. in the end

Thanks to Tandem for giving me this valuable chance to get in touch with NGO’s and to take part in their works. I will send you a copy of the whole report once it’s totally done, as an example of what I have done, So other refugees perhaps and hopefully will find it an interesting opportunity and see how important to becoming volunteered at the moment of their integration life.”

Mohamad volunteered at EAEA in Oct/Nov 2016.

 

Karam

10 December 2016

“I would like to thank you for this great opportunities that you are offering to refugees. I did not have the chance to reply to all the emails, because the time that I arrived to Bruegel we were so busy, and that was fantastic! I really like to be active again.

For me it was such a great experience with Bruegel, I learnt a lot, and I had  the chance to make a research and learn step after step how to build a research, how the big meetings organised.. The team was really nice with me, they’ve never hesitate to help me with any issue.”

Karam volunteered at Bruegel in Sep 2016.

 

CONCORD Europe

10 December 2016

“Mohamad joined the CONCORD team for a month during a very busy time. He was able to learn about the work that we do, at the same time as supporting that work – updating our database of contacts in the European institutions just before we need to use it for a series of report publications for example, and accompanying our team members to meetings of similar networks in Brussels. We were also treated to a fantastic Syrian lunch where we were able to taste several delicious Syrian dishes, and we held a screening of a documentary about Syrian refugees in Jordan, which ended with a lively discussion. Following the placement, we were thrilled to hear that Mohamed was able to continue his studies with a masters at Brussels university. We wish him well for the future!”

Rebecca Steel-Jasińska, Membership Inclusion Coordinator

 

Lifelong Learning Platform

10 December 2016

“All went perfectly and Abdel did an amazing job. We wished we could continue but he has his language courses.”

Brikena Xhomaqi, Director


 

IPHR

10 December 2016

“It was a great experience for IPHR having Modar with us during the three weeks. Modar helped us with developing a Strategy Monitoring & Impact Assessment tool for 2016-2026.

Thanks to his experience in project management that has been very useful and helped both of us in focusing on concrete objectives from our strategy.”

Tarana Ahmadova, Administration and Finance Manager


 

ILGA-Europe

8 December 2016

“It’s such a great initiative to help refugees integrate in Belgium! It gave us an opportunity to do something and at the same time benefit from the tremendous competencies of incredibly talented people.”

ILGA-Europe

CEV | European Volunteer Centre

communication@cev.be

Rue d'Edimbourg 26, Brussels