Another Chance (De Nieuwe Kans) provides a multidisciplinary programme for young people, who live in the city of Rotterdam, are aged 18 to 27 and who have not followed a study or found a job in the past year. The project targets people who experience multiple and complex barriers to (legal) participation in society, and for whom regular social services have failed to work. According to the director of Another Chance, many participants have a criminal record; homogenous and unstable social networks; multiple children whom they cannot maintain; no formal education; a “mild intellectual disability”; and (frequent) experiences with violence and abuse. Therefore, many face difficulties trusting other people, society and themselves (Bieleman and Boendermaker, 2010). Most participants are male and live in the area of Rotterdam South. A few live in Rotterdam West.
According to the interviewed director, the main goals of the project are to increase the social mobility of participants, and to better understand why and how this group remains “under the radar”. Evaluations by Bieleman and Boendermaker (2010), De Nieuwe Kans (2010), and Toxopeus (2011) confirm that Another Chance achieves its goal to foster social mobility. Our study finds that this happens in three ways. First, the programme aims at stabilising participants’ lives by providing adequate (health) care; stimulating a healthy day and night rhythm and regular physical exercise; tackling debts; mapping financial resources as well as social networks. Second, Another Chance seeks to improve participants’ knowledge and skills, e.g. concerning cooking, communication, health and hygiene, language and mathematics, ICT, parenting and physical wellbeing. Third, the programme aims to diversify and to strengthen the social networks of participants (what Putnam (2000: 22) calls ‘bridging social capital’). Therefore, Another Chance makes use of the method of Assertive Community Treatment (ACT): it seeks to diversify and strengthen the social networks of participants by involving the local community (residents and organisations) of Feijenoord in the programme. For instance, the interviewed director explains that presently a neighbourhood resident conducts weekly African drumming sessions with participants. Also, a local group of young rappers called B.R.I.G.H.T.N.E.S.S. [Brightness] undertake rapping sessions with participants on Friday afternoons. According to the director, this is important because:
“When they [participants] walk out here, there is nobody else than people like themselves before [they attended Another Chance]. It is important that where they live, they at least have a few [supportive] contacts. They can also always come back to us. We call them”.
Furthermore, the social networks of (employees of) Another Chance are actively used to introduce participants to people and organisations that can help them increase their socio-economic opportunities. Another Chance contributes to knowledge about the target group by monitoring participants and programmes through academic research.
The programme of Another Chance was initiated by the Albeda College in 2007, on the request of a Vice-Mayor of the City of Rotterdam who wanted to generate more coherence in the facilities for young people who are not served well by existing social services in the City. In 2010, Another Chance became an independent association. From the start, various parties at multiple levels of scale have been involved in the governance of Another Chance, including the district government, police, various (local) social services and schools.
Most trajectories at Another Chance last 6 to 9 months. When possible and necessary, young people can be strongly advised or even forced to follow the programme at DNK by law. However, most participate on a voluntary basis. Every week, the programme facilitates 60 to 70 people. The programme is funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports with € 1.8 million annually in the previous 5 years. At present, 19 people are employed fulltime. Since 2010, Another Chance is monitored by an academic workplace that exists of 4 fulltime PhD students and a few interns and is supervised by two professors of VU University, Amsterdam. The academic workplace is funded by the philanthropic Association The Far Mountains [Stichting De Verre Bergen] with € 400,000 a year. The director of Another Chance explains that resources are insufficient to meet the local demand for participation in the project. Moreover, in 2015, the governance of healthcare services will become a responsibility of municipalities and simultaneously budgets for health care will decrease. The City has informed Another Chance that they will not be able to fund the programme as of 2015. Thus, at present, the continued existence of the organisation is unclear.
Perception and use of the concept of diversity
Although the project does not explicitly address diversity, it has significant implications for the management of diversity. First, the project fills a gap in the policy system by providing a programme for a group of disadvantaged young people whom regular urban policy programmes fail to reach. Second, Another Chance provides an integrated and personalised programme that recognises and caters for the diverse needs of the participants. Therefore, the programme is carried out by a variety of professionals. This approach implies that a complex understanding of diversity underlies the project. For instance, the diverse needs of the target audience are thought to derive from e.g. the diverse family backgrounds, socio-economic opportunities, support networks and social experiences of participants. Third, Another Chance actively uses diversity as a strategy to strengthen the social networks of participants. In this way, diversity is used as an asset, to increase social mobility.
Main factors influencing success or failure
Six aspects of the programme’s approach contribute to its success. First, due to the current segmentation both in policy for and the practice of social services, no proper support exists for a group of people with diverse and complex disabilities. This is reinforced by the abolition of the focus on target groups and the introduction of mainstream policy by the City (Tersteeg et al., 2014). The latter ignores that people are subject to different circumstances. According to the director, the multidisciplinary and personalised approach of Another Chance fills the gap:
“You have to watch out for being naive. It makes no sense to ask for unrealistic things. […] [For instance] If you make a big fuzz about drugs and alcohol use, they [participants] will be gone. Everyone smokes and uses [drugs], everyone drinks. […] Instead you should base your intervention on the lives that they live and generate a discussion about it”.
Second, Another Chance facilitates multidisciplinary and customised care (on location) that adequately addresses the diverse disabilities that participants have. Third, the way in which the programme actively approaches the target population in their own neighbourhoods increases their participation in the programme (Bieleman and Boendermaker, 2010). An outreaching approach is used to reduce the barriers to participate in a trajectory of Another Chance (on location) among the target audience. Fourth, even though it is sometimes difficult to involve local parties in the programme this turns out to be key for increasing the wellbeing of participants. The experiences of Another Chance with embedding the project in the local neighbourhood, has proven to successfully strengthen the social networks of the participants. Fifth, the interviewed director argues that the emergence of complex and dynamic diversities causes a focus in society on the individual. The process of individualisation makes that traditional institutions in society such as churches, unions and local football clubs become less important. The director argues that especially disadvantaged groups, of which there are many in Rotterdam South, experience difficulties with creating and organising new institutions. For its participants, Another Chance acts as such an institution. He argues that there is a lack of institutions for disadvantaged groups in Rotterdam South and in society. Finally, the continuous evaluation of Another Chance by an Academic Workplace will not only contribute to innovation in the programme itself, but will also facilitate better knowledge of the target group and of methodological approaches.
The budget is the main difficulty the organisation faces. In its annual plan for 2012, the organisation states that they would like to accompany more participants because the demand for the programme is much higher than they can handle. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports refuses to increase the annual budget of € 1.8 million (not even to correct for inflation). With a higher budget the director of Another Chance would also invest in the quality of its personnel. Nevertheless, the upcoming budget cuts and decentralisation of health care forms a threat to the existence of the entire programme, particularly because Another Chance has not developed an alternative financial plan. According to the director, the government fails to see “the business case”. By business case he means that the costs for society are much lower with the presence of organisations such as Another Chance than without. Another Chance lessens crime by keeping the target audience off the streets and teaching them good citizenship.
Another Chance teaches us that recognising diversity of circumstances and needs of people facing multiple and complex barriers to participation in society, is key for increasing their social mobility. The multidisciplinary, personalised and outreaching methods of the project, as well as its embeddedness in the local community fill a gap in urban policy in Rotterdam. The programme has successfully increased the visibility of the target group. Unless the City provides an alternative for Another Chance or the organisation develops an alternative financial plan, the upcoming budget cuts will cause the target audience to disappear under the radar again, counteracting the projects goals.
Image: De Nieuwe Kans
 Assertive Community Treatment is an integrated approach in health care for people with multiple and complex mental disabilities (see e.g. Johnson, 2011).
 Albeda College is a school for general vocational training in the Metropolitan region of Rotterdam. The school has 50 locations of which one in Rotterdam South. In order to support deprived young people in this area, the school has participated in (the development of) various local social programs such as Another Chance.