Skip to main content
European Social Fund Plus

Belgian project shows young refugees how to thrive

Belgian project shows young refugees how to thrive
(c) PICTURE360

Refugees’ troubles are not over when they arrive in their host country. They are suddenly thrust into a new environment and have to acclimatise quickly to a new language and a new way of life. Young refugees are especially vulnerable as they are at risk of social exclusion, which can lead to dropping out of school and, eventually, unemployment.

A Belgian project has addressed this issue in an innovative way, using picture cards. Thanks to funding from the European Social Fund (ESF), the ‘Profo Integration and Coaching Tool for Unaccompanied and accompanied minor Refugees' (PICTURE360) project gives supervisors and coaches the skills and training needed to support refugees. Using an innovative stack of cards, coaches are given tips and training on how to build refugees’ social skills such as self-reliance, as well as civic, work and school skills – essential to adapt and flourish in their host communities.

PICTURE360 organises activities and workshops that give refugees practical, real-world skills, as well as help with education and work. Hussein explains how the project has given him the everyday skills he needs to participate fully in society.

‘I’ve been attending PICTURE360 for four months, one day a week,’ he says. ‘Every day I learn something new! For example, I learned how to send e-mails and how to find and apply for jobs, how to fix a bike… Sometimes we just go for a ride and talk, which helps my understanding of Dutch.’

Ahmadullah has had a similar experience, noting PICTURE360’s activities as a major benefit: ‘I’ve been attending PICTURE360 for six months now. I learned a lot throughout the activities with Wout [PICTURE360 counsellor]: cooking, climbing, boxing, riding a bike.’

The project also assists refugees to integrate into Belgian society by, for example, providing help when enrolling in education, setting up a bank account, learning the local language, or polishing a CV. For Ahmadullah, this kind of support has been invaluable: ‘Wout has done a lot for me. He helped me with school problems, to get a subsidy in order and with OCMW (institute of Welfare) problems,’ he says. ‘We did a lot of activities together and exercises towards my driving license theory exam. Wout is the best mentor. Thanks for everything!’

Sarah Van den Broeck, Context Supervisor at Wingerbloei, who is counselling refugees with PICTURE360, explains the approach:

‘PICTURE360 has a positive impact on youngsters [...] The moments of learning are not dull or formal, but playful moments that often make the client unaware that they are being educated. In this playful and light-hearted way, serious themes are discussed […] The trainees enjoy coming to PICTURE360 and the contact between the counsellor and them is open and positive.’

PICTURE360 has helped more than 50 young refugees to remove the barriers holding them back in Belgian society, equipping them with the skills they need to be independent and prosperous members of their communities. Based on their rewarding experience with PICTURE360, the counsellors involved in the project have advised government bodies on how to work with young refugees and have developed a valuable tool for professionals responsible for counselling non-accompanied minor refugees or people with migration backgrounds, available on the project website. New guidance on improving intercultural communication is also coming soon!


Project details

Project name
Profo Integration and Coaching Tool for Unaccompanied and accompanied minor REfugees (PICTURE360)
55 youngsters, 2 counsellors, 1 coordinator
Project start
Project end
Internet and social
Contact details
Sam Bruynooghe
Beleidsmedewerker Willebroekkaai 36 
1000 Brussel 
+32 488 66 39 93 
Total budget
EUR 300 000
EU Budget contribution
EUR 300 000