• Blog
  • 1-2-2024

A Conversation with Tamara - Project Coordinator at refugee shelters

After 20 years in the police force, Tamara was ready for a new challenge. She chose a career in refugee shelters and ended up at Monoma as the project coordinator for our 9 shelter locations in Tilburg. Together, we reflect on this career switch, the challenges it brought, and the unique aspects and personal experiences of her current role.

From the police to Monoma

After a 20-year career in the police, Tamara made the transition to Monoma last year. "I started as a street cop. Over the years, I progressed to a sergeant in the emergency response unit and had roles in emergency response, the dispatch center, and the detective unit. After all those years, I felt that the uniform was becoming less comfortable. I wanted more and wanted to continue developing myself." Her new challenge turned out to be in the housing of refugees, first in a crisis emergency shelter for regular refugees and, for the past year, as a project coordinator at Monoma.

Describing her role, she explains that there is no such thing as a "normal workday" for her. Each day is different, involving meetings, task coordination, bringing colleagues and external parties together to improve processes daily, etc. She moves from one location to another with operation and process manuals under her arm to ensure everything runs smoothly. "I enjoy optimizing our processes, the interaction with our caretakers, external parties, and colleagues at the headquarters. But most of all, I enjoy seeing caretakers grow in their roles and confidence. These aspects make my work special and meaningful."

"Life just goes on, even at refugee shelters."

While refugees often leave home in haste to find a safe haven elsewhere, people forget that life continues, even at shelter locations. "Life within a shelter location is really not different from outside; divorces, babies, new friendships, and relationships happen every day. A story that made a big impression is that of a resident who did everything possible to be with his wife and children, which meant commuting between two locations daily. It shows the humanity in an environment often associated with challenges and difficulties."

Support and growth

Although Tamara started in a tumultuous period when municipalities were in search of the right locations, people, and resources to manage the influx of refugees, she emphasizes the support she received from the team, especially from her colleague Lesley. "While it felt overwhelming at the beginning of my time at Monoma due to that turbulent period, I now feel more and more set in my role and in my place. We have taken many positive steps in the past six months, such as appointing coordinators at partner companies and welcoming new caretakers."

"What started as a team with three caretakers has now grown to a team of five, soon to be six caretakers. This means that all shelter locations now have their own dedicated caretaker. And with the right colleagues in the right positions at our headquarters, we now have more peace and overview, which has had a positive impact on the entire team," emphasizes Tamara.

Tamara is very satisfied with the steps she took and the support she received from colleagues. "This is what I missed with my previous employers. The space and the opportunity to continue developing myself. Not only in this role but also in the future. Although it is still too early to make specific plans for that."

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