TeamUp International - Supporting Refugee Children Worldwide

TeamUp International

Child participants: 57,653
War Child Volunteer Facilitators: 1,037
Countries: Five
Local partner organisations: Eight

Over 70 million people around the world are displaced from their homes - half of whom are children. In a world where nearly one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds (UNHCR), our work to protect children’s social and emotional wellbeing is more important than ever.

Exposed and on the run, these children and their families face a number of acute threats to their safety and wellbeing - not least the serious toll this takes on their mental health. And these stresses don’t end when they cross the border. Refugee children continue to worry about their parents and their friends back home and are often forced to move. Many have vivid nightmares of the violence at home and experience deep feelings of sadness, anger and anxiety.

Larissa Koekkoek

Healing Through Play

The TeamUp programme teaches children and youth aged from six to 18 how to cope with their feelings. This is done through structured play and movement activities provided by trained volunteer facilitators. Every activity has a specific goal related to a theme such as dealing with anger or stress and interacting with peers.

The suite of activities ultimately provides children with emotional support, a much-needed sense of stability and tools to use in their daily lives. Even if they don’t share a common language, all the children can participate as the activities themselves are central to the project.

David Jurado

A Humanitarian Priority

The international roll-out of TeamUp gained momentum over the course of 2019. We further expanded our presence in refugee settlements in Uganda to support growing numbers of refugees from South Sudan. In the first half of the year we kick-started activities in Colombia, the occupied Palestinian territory and Sri Lanka - countries where the trauma and stress experienced by children is growing in scale and complexity. In a bid to extend our reach, we also entered into partnership with SOS Children’s Villages - the first partner to come on-board beyond the original coalition.

Talks quickly became plans to form a new alliance to support refugee children on the move in Greece, Italy and Sweden - with the start-up phase well underway.

Sharing Expertise

Once again, we were able to showcase our programme methodology during the annual ‘TeamUp Date’ - which saw our partners and supporters experience the activities for themselves. Attendees took part in the ‘parachute game’ together with our volunteer coordinators.

Larissa Koekkoek


In 2020 we will accelerate our efforts to ease the burden of refugee children’s complex and stressful lives. We will do this by continuing to invest in relationships with organisations, individuals and institutions who are committed to providing children with the psychosocial support they need. Negotiations with the Dutch Ministry of Justice continue to ensure our presence in asylum centres in the years to come. And we’re welcoming new studies from in-house researchers to ensure our methodology works - no matter the context.