The beating heart of everything we do is our Re-Start programme where people with a refugee background join us in A Beautiful Mess restaurant or makerspace for six months. Participants receive professional coaching and training sessions, and begin building up a network. After six months, we support our participants as they leave the nest by helping them to find work or begin further education. Getting a job contract or finding a place to study is, of course, a huge step towards a meaningful life in the Netherlands.

Beyond the Re-Start programme, people who have just arrived in the Netherlands can get involved in what we call a ‘pre-start’. This is a unique opportunity for newcomers to volunteer in coffee bars, which are housed in asylum centres. It’s a great way to be active and cultivate a sense of pride and responsibility in a new land: people are trained in skills like making the perfect cup of coffee and given a chance to meet others, including the local community, in a relaxed setting. We opened the first Coffeecafe 5 bar in the asylum center (azc) in Willinklaan, Amsterdam-West and more are planned soon.


We set up company visits and prepare participants for job interviews. Employers can join meet & greet sessions to get to know our candidates. Laws and regulations are a key topic, we often get asked whether people with a refugee background are allowed to work. The answer is yes: an individual is allowed to work during the asylum procedure. When a permanent residence permit is granted, the employer may apply for wage cost subsidy. We know a lot about this at A Beautiful Mess, so feel free to get in touch.


In 2020, the new Dutch integration law (“inburgeringswet”) comes into effect. Municipalities will need to be able to offer work experience positions and language courses. They’ll also need to be able to offer courses in ONA (Orientation for the Dutch Labour Market) and KNM (Knowledge of Dutch Society). A Beautiful Mess can help people with a refugee background become ‘fit for the job’ and we can offer the municipalities tailor-made job matching. Currently, we’re helping the following municipalities: Alkmaar, Almere, Amstelveen, Amsterdam, Badhoevedorp, Bloemendaal/Heemstede, Diemen, Haarlemmermeer, Nieuw-Vennep, Purmerend, Uitgeest, Volendam/Edam, Weesp, the IJmond region and finally Zaandam.


At A Beautiful Mess, we believe investing in people is a good thing to do whether someone stays in the Netherlands temporarily—or permanently. Slow procedures are bad news for everyone, but enabling people to develop themselves and become socially and economically independent is always worthwhile. A Beautiful Mess helps, but the real work is done by the participants themselves. Things don’t always work out, but we’re always optimistic and there’s many success stories to share already. Whatever happens next, we’ll keep moving forward.