Newcomers and organisations go hand in hand thanks to Atlas Antwerp15 May 2023 10:43
Atlas Antwerp has long been closely associated with Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen and the Refugee Walk in particular. This year, they are going a step further than participating and are even our main partner. So this is the perfect opportunity to tell a bit more about their organization!
Atlas is a government agency that supports newcomers and non-native speakers in Antwerp with their integration process. Atlas also assists organisations in the City in dealing better with diversity and language, there is a dispatch service for social interpreting and translation requests and an information point on residence and legal status.
It also works on image building on inclusion and diversity. Atlas' vision is that integration and inclusion come from two sides: both from newcomers who follow an integration programme and learn Dutch and from the society that receives them and of which newcomers will be a part.
For Atlas, the Refugee Walk is a very exciting initiative because a lot of people still have questions around diversity and inclusion, including when it comes to people on the run. For many people, there is a lack of clarity around migration and people on the run. The topic often creates polarisation and negativity.
The Refugee Walk tries to make this a positive story by bringing people together. This year, Atlas is involving integrationists in the walk to create a language practice opportunity. During the walk, people can get to know each other and practise Dutch.
"The Refugee Walk connects people and thus lowers the threshold to interact with each other," says Atlas.
This is not the first time Atlas has committed to a collaboration around people on the run. In 2021, a story series was made about refugees from the Left Bank reception centre. Together with Red Star Line, Atlas also made a video for World Refugee Day that year, featuring testimonies of Antwerp residents who once had to flee from their countries of origin.
Atlas likes to focus on normalising diversity and human stories. We should not just see people as refugees or newcomers, but as people who have been through all kinds of things and will go through all kinds of things. For Atlas, you are not only a person with a past but also someone with a future.
Would you also like to help newcomers to Antwerp and support people in their integration process?
This is possible via numerous projects such as Stadsklap, Open Inloop Taal or Atlas' buddy work. At Stadsklap, persons integrating come into contact with Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Antwerp to discuss integration lessons and life in Belgium together. Through this project, you can actively contribute to the ongoing integration process of future Antwerp citizens and be a link in a positive integration process. Check the agenda on the Atlas website for more information about Stadsklap and how you can participate.
You can also do a lot as a volunteer buddy. Take a look at the volunteer vacancies on the Atlas website for more information. In addition, every year Atlas also organises a big party in Antwerp, where new and old Antwerp citizens come together to celebrate the diversity of their city. Come to Atlas op het Plein on 9 June. You can find all information about this on Atlas' website and social media.