Flanders seeks 10,000 buddies for integration of newcomers
Minister of Living Together Bart Somers is looking for 10,000 buddies to help newcomers find their way in Flanders. He said this on Thursday evening, during the programme 'De Tafel van Vier'. " Tonight I am making a heart-felt plea to all Flemish people to sign up as a buddy via www.mijnbuddy.be," he said.
The Flemish integration programme is compulsory for all adult non-European newcomers. They must pass a Dutch language test, a social orientation test and register with the Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training (VDAB) within two months.
From January 2023, there will also be the buddy system, allowing Flemish people to help newcomers master the Dutch language and find their way in Flanders. The intention is for buddies and persons integrating to spend around 40 hours together and thus see each other regularly.
"We estimate that 8,000 buddies are needed initially, but we aim for 10,000 buddies, because persons integrating voluntarily also want to strengthen their social network," minister Somers said. "We are therefore launching the website www.mijnbuddy.be. There, people can register and are matched with a person integrating."
The pilot projects already attracted a very broad spectrum of people who applied to become a buddy. "You get to know someone you might otherwise never get in touch with. Who knows, you might keep a friend for life," minister Somers concluded.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK - Flemish Minister of Domestic Policy and Living Together Bart Somers pictured during a plenary session at the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday 22 June 2022.