Making Wellbeing accessible for asylum seekers in the Netherlands

students stretch happy zoom meeting

Inuka is on a mission to make wellbeing accessible to everybody. This means that next to supporting employees of various organizations with their wellbeing, Inuka is constantly looking for more ways to make the world a bit of a better, happier, and more resilient place. This is why Inuka was excited to work on the following question: What can Inuka Coaching do for refugees in the Netherlands? 

Together with three students from the minor Frugal Innovation, this topic was thoroughly researched. For four months, Lisa Führer, Marleen Kop and Joris Pijpers were student researchers at Inuka. Their research was part of the minor program Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development, organized by Erasmus University Rotterdam, Technical University Delft, and Leiden University. 

students stretch happy zoom meeting
The team of four energizing during one of their weekly meetings


The three students did all types of research for Inuka. They started by interviewing over 20 people with a refugee background. They also interviewed over 10 experts with knowledge on the situation in Dutch asylum centers (AZCs). The interviews demonstrated that asylum seekers live under unstable living conditions, experience a lot of stress, and often feel useless and bored.

Focus Groups & Pilot

The student group also hosted a focus group: three former refugees joined with two staff members from Inuka. Together we discovered how useful and efficient Inuka can be to help asylum seekers solve their problems!

In December and January, the Inuka Method was promoted in AZCs and in refugee groups across the country. Many former refugees and current asylum seekers expressed interest in solving their problems using the Inuka Method. Eventually, some people also ended up trying out the Inuka app! 


The results from the interviews, focus group and pilot show that asylum seekers have three core needs. These include learning Dutch, feeling useful again, and building a (Dutch) social network. Although Inuka can play an important role in helping asylum seekers work towards these goals, by structuring their thoughts and activating them, most refugees looked for direct, concrete support, support, and advice in their own language, and someone to help them learn Dutch. Therefore, there doesn’t seem a match with Inuka as it is now for this group. Accordingly, the three students did formulate some recommendations for further progress. 


In order to make Inuka more attuned to the needs of refugees, the following recommendations have been made:

  1. Train former asylum seekers as Inuka coaches so they could help them with concrete advice on integration 
  2. Provide more language options
  3. Offer optional video calling 

However, the students suggested Inuka to continue innovating and focus on people who have left the asylum centers, instead of those still living in the centers. For those people outside the AZCs there is a bigger focus on integrating into Dutch society, and they have more freedom to find the resources they need to integrate successfully. 

For a visual representation of the research journey click here!

Interested in doing this research? Inuka is looking for another group of students to explore this question! You can send an email to [email protected] !

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