Dutch-language initiative partners Brussels residents with newcomers
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Dutch-language initiative partners Brussels residents with newcomers

Credit: Cabinet Pascal Smet

A new Dutch-language project, CoNnect Brussels, will partner Brussels residents with newcomers to the city to help them find their way in society and practice their language skills.

The initiative was launched by Flemish Community Commission to assist the large number of people who arrive in the city to build a new life, Councilmember Pascal Smet explained.

“About 3,000 people sign up for a Dutch-language integration course every year. In addition to following the social orientation and language courses, it is important that these new Brussels residents can build a social network and find their way into the rich, but sometimes complex offerings of the city,” said Smet.

Participants are asked to take part in an intake interview to assess their needs and interests, which helps the team behind the project to match them with the ideal buddy.

“This project can help to welcome newcomers even better. A buddy makes it easier to take the first steps and to get to know other Brussels residents,” said Bülent and Emine Özeler, who themselves migrated to Belgium 2.5 years ago.

The initiative, which aims to bring the couples together at least twice a month, is supported by the European Fund for Asylum and Migration and is part of the Flemish government’s policy to offer newcomers more opportunities for social participation.