Nijmegen Sint-Stevenskerk
Nijmegen Sint-Stevenskerk

VIA Participatietraject Nijmegen (VIA participation process)

This project sought to understand how the VIA participation process in the Municipality of Nijmegen contributes to higher levels or participation in society through work, both voluntary and paid. The research also aimed to gain insight into the contribution to higher levels of welfare among Dutch people with a non-Western migration background receiving long-term income support.


The goal of the VIA participation process in the municipality of Nijmegen is to help people who receive long-term welfare benefits to climb one step up the participation ladder, with some form of activation towards day care, volunteer work or paid work as a goal. Scientific research will reveal the extent to which the Nijmegen participation process contributes to social activation and increased well-being of people with a non-Western migration background who are entitled to welfare benefits. The study also highlights the implementation of the participation processes and the relevant (in)effective mechanisms these processes consist of.


The approach is characterized by a higher intensity of personal guidance by the municipality's participation coaches. Other characteristics are the cross-domain perspectives on difficulties in activation (such as welfare, education, social safety net, health), the non-compulsory nature of the trajectory and the cooperation between the participation coach and the relevant partners in the chain of the reintegration trajectory. From a municipal perspective, the starting point is that participants are actually heard and seen. Therefore, this is the starting point of the trajectory, and a prerequisite for the trajectory to be successful. According to the policy makers and participation coaches involved, this creates a mutual bond of trust and a respectful relationship. This relationship of trust enables the coach to help the participant take meaningful steps on the participation ladder, which should lead to an increase in well-being and social activation.

Different reintegration program

The VIA participation program differs from other reintegration programs by the high intensity of personal guidance of the participant by the participation coach. Whether social activation actually increases as a result of this pathway is still unclear, but in any case, it seems that more steps are being taken towards volunteering, which means that a meaningful step on the participation ladder is being taken by people who were not making much progress before.

Due to the voluntary nature of this track, the participation coaches manage to build a personal relationship with the participants. Participants themselves formulate concrete and realistic goals with the support of the participation coach and other collaboration partners about how they want to take steps to increase their participation in society. Gratitude for this help from the municipality seems to be high among participants. However, a point of criticism must be mentioned; it remains difficult for participation coaches to reach the target group, because realizing the first contact moment between coach and participant is already a big step for some participants. This can of course have several causes, but the perceived distance between the municipality and resident of a different cultural background is the most frequently mentioned reason.


Werner, L.M., Beckers, P.J., Tolsma, J. & Spierings, N. (2021). VIA pilot participatietraject gemeente Nijmegen: Tussentijdse rapportage. (internal report). Nijmegen: RUNOMI; RSCR:

Spierings, N., Werner, L.M., Beckers, P.J. & Tolsma, J. (2021). VIA pilot participatietraject gemeente Nijmegen: Eindrapportage. (internal report). Nijmegen: RUNOMI; RSCR:


Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid


Gemeente Nijmegen

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