How can I sign up to help at the emergency shelter?

You can sign up to help in the emergency shelter at www.zoetermeervoorelkaar.nl | Refugee Support(external link).

What type of help/volunteering is needed?

There are 2 types of volunteering you can help with:

  • Weekly/monthly
    Usually, help is needed with computer and language classes and leisure activities. These are often ongoing activities (multiple and at set times). Volunteers who come to help regularly receive a volunteer contract from COA. They then become "COA volunteers. This means that you receive a reimbursement of travel expenses, must present a Certificate of Good Conduct (VOG) and must abide by COA's code of conduct.
  • Once or a few times
    There is also often room for support for activities that take place once or a few times, such as an activity for children, a field day or a social gathering for all residents. This does not require becoming an official "COA volunteer.

What can you donate and what is better not to donate?

Some of the residents of the reception location in Zoetermeer already have a residence permit (status holders) and/or have been living in the Netherlands for some time. They already have their own clothes, toiletries, telephones, computers and other items to support themselves. The residents receive living and pocket money from COA to enable them to buy groceries. They cook their own food.

In addition, there is not much space in the rooms and at the location to store many things. Too many items can create unsafe situations, because they get in the way during emergencies, for example.

In general, the following items are not necessary:

  1. Food and drink
    Residents buy this themselves
  2. Household goods and toys
    COA furnishes the location with everything needed to live there comfortably; many residents already have their own household goods and toys.
  3. Clothing
    Residents generally have adequate clothing

Finally, COA indicates that it considers it important that all residents be treated equally. This means that COA only accepts items for all residents and not just for a few residents or only residents of a certain origin. For example, consider a ping pong table for the recreation room that everyone can use. But one winter coat or one children's bicycle would not be of much use to COA; they would then have to choose which of the 630 people would get them and they cannot make that choice.

If you do want to donate food/clothing/items; please do so at the local food bank, clothing bank or thrift store. If COA does need any of these items, they will knock there.

For more information, see also www.coa.nl | Volunteering and donations(external link).

How can I contribute to a good relationship between the neighborhood and emergency shelter residents?

Since the start of the plans for a shelter, a consultation has been initiated between COA employees, municipal employees and representatives from the neighborhood. This group, also known as the "committee," aims to contribute to a good relationship between the residents of the reception site and local residents.

The members are:

  • some representatives of the municipality (e.g. neighborhood manager/neighborhood director)
  • some representatives of the police
  • some local residents
  • and COA's site manager

The committee initially met once every 3 weeks. The first time was before the shelter was in use. The committee agreed with each other on how often they would meet.