Expats helping expats
25 February 2017
Since November 2016 ACCESS is part of Expat Centre Leiden, providing expertise and experience in answering questions internationals have, and guiding them towards solutions & answers. For 30 years ACCESS, a not-for-profit volunteer run organisation has been doing just that: giving volunteers, with expatriate experience (here or elsewhere) the opportunity to help others, and serve the community. “We know from experience,” says Executive Director Deborah Valentine, “that when you can speak to someone, who has been in your shoes, immediately, everything which may have seemed insurmountable becomes manageable. And, the first step to settling in is firmly planted.”
What is ACCESS
ACCESS is a not-for-profit organisation which supports the international community in the Netherlands. Its professional volunteer staff can answer questions and provide information on important expatriation issues, and its Counselling Services Network is on-call to refer to experienced and qualified professionals aware of the challenges facing expatriates in need of support. Many of the answers can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions Guides (www.access-nl.org/guides) or by emailing the Expat Centre Leiden helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, of course, if you are in Leiden, by dropping by the Expat Centre Leiden within opening hours.
Expats helping expats
The ACCESS Helpdesk model is a tried and tested way of expats being able to help expats. The experience of those who have arrived before is invaluable to navigating the waters of a new home. After all, when someone is new to a place they do not know what you they do not know, who better to help guide them than those who have travelled the same path. Being able to do so in person, face to face only enhances the impact and the hospitality extended to new residents of the Leiden area.
Volunteering for ACCESS
It is not simply the services ACCESS offers to the community at large which makes it unique, but rather that they also provide internationals the opportunity to volunteer and thus contribute to their own settlement process. By contributing their time and expertise to ACCESS, and the community, the volunteers are able to broaden their network, make valuable use of their time, and create a supportive community for themselves. "That we are now able to offer these benefits to internationals in the Leiden area makes us equally proud of our achievements." To find out about volunteering opportunities with ACCESS please refer to their Information Mornings.