ASKV / Refugee Support (Steunpunt Vluchtelingen)

ASKV Refugee Support is an Amsterdam-based organisation, providing legal assistance and social support (including shelter) to undocumented refugees. At present, ASKV is one the last remaining organisations of it’s kind in Amsterdam, and every year hundreds of undocumented people make use of the daily walk-in legal and social advice clinics. ASKV has particular expertise in providing housing and guidance to refugees with psychiatric disorders. In addition to direct assistance, ASKV is a vocal advocate for refugee rights, both locally and nationally. They organise Dutch language training for clients, as well as regular awareness campaigns and discussion events for the broader public.

Much of their work is volunteer-based, allowing ASKV to conduct all its work on a slim annual budget of approximately €850,000. Most of the funding comes from Dutch charities, the municipality of Amsterdam and individual donations. In addition to the ongoing legal, social and housing support, they also assist asylum seekers who experience psychiatric difficulties, offer Dutch language courses, and provide support to LGBT refugees.

Year(s): 2011

Target group(s): undocumented refugees



Refugees without residence permit looking for help

Refugees who need assistance, live in or around Amsterdam and have unsuccessfully claimed asylum in the Netherlands can ask for help at the ASKV. ASKV provides legal and social advice from Monday to Thursday, between 10am and 12 noon.

Medical Counseling Center (MOO)

ASKV offers medical counseling to undocumented refugees. The starting point of the MOO is that psychically ill people cannot live on the streets. Due to the uncertainty and hopelessness of life on the street, psychological complaints can become worse. In addition, having a stable place of residence is often a prerequisite for mental health care.

The project was started in 2011 with 12 undocumented refugees with psychological problems. Meanwhile, there is space for 50 people. The MOO has several residential buildings and an office, all located in the same street in a quiet neighborhood in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. Each property offers space for three people, each with its own bedroom. Kitchen and bathroom are shared. The inhabitants appreciate this small-scale intent: they are not alone and can keep an eye on each other's well-being. At the same time, it remains relatively quiet at home, something that is very much needed by this target group.

During office hours, the office is open to residents. They can use the washing machine and computer, have a cup of coffee or tea and have lunch with the staff. The individual conversations are also taking place here. Due to the accessibility of the office, there is a daily view of the residents. This allows the supervisors to easily monitor how they are doing. Residents are also visited by the employees daily, especially those who do not go to the office themselves. There is a telephone service available for residents (in emergency situations) in the evenings, nights and weekends.

Legal counseling

The MOO guarantees the residents a temporary subsistence allowance by dividing living expenses and providing a stable living situation. This allows residents to settle down. This enables them to look forward to their prospects and make a plan to become self-reliant in the future. The MOO strives to create a suitable and realizable future perspective for each client, so that after the end of a trajectory s/he will not be in the old situation again.

For residents there are three routes that can be taken legally:

1) A regular residence permit: This can for example be an application on medical grounds, so that at least a medical treatment can take place in the Netherlands.

2) A repeated application for asylum: This is a possibility if the first asylum request was wrongly rejected.

3) Voluntary return to the country of origin: If there is no legal perspective in the Netherlands, there is the possibility of returning to the country of origin. Good health and some confidence in the future, however, are essential to make a successful return. This is often lacking in the target group of the MOO.

On average, residents stay ten months at the MOO. During that period, the occupant can rest, start a treatment and achieve stability in the mental state. After that, a legal or return process is initiated.

Type of product

assistance and support 

Brief description of the product / outcome / method

 ASKV offers legal assistance and social support to undocumented refugees and helps refugees with mental problems.

Impact on target groups / Transferability potential

A person who is on the street without a residence permit with psychiatric problems can hardly break the negative vicious circle. The MOO helps these people to come out of this circle. The MOO project was initially intended as a pilot project to understand the extent of these issues and to create support for structural improvements. Nowadays the MOO works intensively with direct partners such as Mental Healthcare Institutions, Municipalities, regional and national authoritites. This ensures that undocumented persons with psychiatric issues are notified, get in shelter and the appropriate agencies and institutions are involved in the (treatment) trajectories.    

Promoter of the initiative

Name of organization / individual: ASKV

Country: Netherlands


Contacts: Frederik Hendrikstraat 111-c, 1052 HN, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, telephone: +31 (0)20 627 2408

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