Annual report, financial report & policy plan




Financial Report 2022

Annual Report 2022

Policy Plan Changing Stories Foundation 2023 & 2024


“Play, sports, and creative activities are very important for a child’s development. Every child should be given the time and space to play. They have the right to relaxation, and they have the right to participate in sports, cultural, and artistic activities. The government should ensure that every child has equal opportunities in this regard. The government should also promote recreational, artistic, and cultural facilities for children.”

(Article 31, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child)

Changing Stories is a foundation that focuses on Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Theatre makers, drama therapists, and artists work together with children who are refugees to create positive experiences through theatrical interventions. Changing Stories takes children briefly into a world of wonder and imagination where children are the creators and have control.

Background and Start of Changing Stories Foundation

With the large influx of people seeking refuge in the Netherlands, Changing Stories started in 2016 as a theater project for parents and children in Dutch asylum centers. When reports emerged about the desperate situation of children in Greek refugee camps, Changing Stories decided to focus on where the need was greatest.

After implementing five projects in refugee camps on Lesbos and Samos, the Changing Stories Foundation was established at the end of 2019. The foundation initially chose to focus on Greece as a European foundation with a responsibility for the well-being of children within European borders.

Since 2020, access to camps in Greece has been restricted. This is partly due to the COVID-19 crisis, but mainly due to policy changes. The camps have become more closed fortresses where organizations have limited access. Additionally, the conflict in Ukraine has led to a significant increase in the number of displaced children in Europe. Therefore, the foundation’s initial focus has shifted to all displaced children in Europe, regardless of the context of a camp.

Since 2022, Changing Stories has been implementing projects not only in Greece but also in the Balkans and Calais. In the Balkan countries, many displaced children have been living in orphanages and slums for years. Moreover, countries like Romania and Moldova accommodate many people fleeing from neighboring Ukraine. In Calais, children live in makeshift huts, hoping for a better future in England, often after finding dead ends throughout Europe.

The foundation’s focus has expanded to include all displaced children within and at the borders of Europe. The foundation carries out five international projects per year and fifteen shorter projects or project days in Dutch asylum centers and emergency shelters. The foundation is also active in schools and the professional field, providing education and training.

Mission and Vision

In 1989, the United Nations adopted the “United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Almost all countries in the world have signed this convention, including the Netherlands in 1995. The rights of refugee children in Europe are violated on numerous points of this convention on a daily basis, including the right to leisure, play, and recreation as described above. In 2020, over 17,500 children arrived in Southern Europe as refugees, with the majority in Greece. The majority of these children traveled alone, over 12,000 of them.

In Europe, since World War II, we have lived with the realization of “Never Again.” This refers to the ruthless genocide of Jews and other minorities and the millions of Europeans who witnessed it helplessly.

These two observations motivate the foundation to take action against the great injustice inflicted upon children in Europe. Not directed against European states, but with a sense of personal responsibility. To make a difference and momentarily take children into a world of imagination and play where anything is possible.

Through short-term theatrical activities, Changing Stories aims to stimulate imagination and joy. Play and fun allow children to relax, stimulate their imagination, and can offer hope in a hopeless situation. Because “Imagination is central to recovery; without the inner imagination of an alternative future there is no place to go.” – Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

Changing Stories also allows children to participate in art activities that promote their socio-emotional development. Research shows that children in refugee camps benefit from short interventions that focus on protective factors such as hope, increasing self-confidence, and the sense of belonging.

In addition, Changing Stories focuses on raising awareness about the living conditions of displaced children. Through educational projects (primary education, secondary education, and higher education) and training (professional practice), the power of theater and creativity in post-crisis situations is explained using the Changing Stories method. With this, the foundation hopes to inspire caregivers and future global citizens to use their talents to help the vulnerable in our society. This will hopefully contribute to the sustainability of socio-emotional and creative support for children in need.


The Changing Stories Foundation has a dual purpose:

  1. Creating moments of play, fun, and imagination with children and youth growing up in refugee camps. Changing Stories briefly takes these children on a creative journey, offering a moment to dream and be carefree children.
  2. Organizing awareness activities and inspiring children and adults in Europe. Creating awareness about the situation of children in refugee camps while simultaneously inspiring and motivating action.

Where the need is high

Changing Stories carries out projects both domestically and internationally in places where the need is high. To ensure this goal, we have established ten criteria to determine when a location meets this need. If at least 5 out of the following 10 criteria are present in the situation where children live, we consider it inhumane and indicative of a need; if 8 or more criteria are present, the need is high.


– Lack of or limited basic amenities (running water, sanitation, shelter, food)

– Lack of or limited access to education

– Limited opportunities to participate or engage in sports, cultural, and artistic activities

– Forced displacement or eviction from living/sleeping places

– Forced detachment from their own socio-cultural context

– Unsafe context in the present or past, posing a real risk of chronic stress and/or psychotrauma

– Restrictive living conditions (lack of autonomy to leave the dwelling place)

– Restrictions on freedom of movement in general (e.g., lack of identification or inability to cross borders)

– Situations where parents/caregivers are absent or unable to provide safety and care for children

– Marginalization of the group to which children belong, resulting in a lack of support from institutions (such as justice or social engagement)


– Limited basic amenities (food, sanitation, privacy)

– Limited opportunities to participate or engage in sports, cultural, and artistic activities

– Unpredictable displacement of living/sleeping places (e.g., in transitional locations)

– Forced detachment from their own socio-cultural context

– Unsafe context in the present or past, posing a real risk of chronic stress and/or psychotrauma

– Restrictive living conditions (e.g., weekly reporting obligations)

– Restrictions on freedom of movement in general (e.g., lack of identification or inability to cross borders)

– Situations where parents/caregivers are absent or unable to provide safety and care for children

– Marginalization of the group to which children belong, resulting in a lack of support from institutions (such as justice or social engagement)


Changing Stories implements theater projects, which consist of artistic (visual workshops) and theatrical elements (e.g., a show and theater games). A project is considered when work is conducted for more than three consecutive days, This can be on consecutive days with the same children or every day in a different place or with a different group. In addition to projects, separate workshops are also conducted at emergency shelter locations in the Netherlands. Since the need for projects may shift, a preliminary exploration is conducted when necessary. In that case, someone is assigned to establish physical or online contacts in a new location and assess whether this place fits within the “high need” where Changing Stories aims to intervene. Additionally, the possibility of establishing a partnership is explored.


Collaboration with a partner organization is always necessary, as it provides access to a location and ensures the safety of our artists. A local partner is familiar with the (cultural) context and has agreements/protocols for risks relevant to this context.


The Changing Stories Foundation is managed by three directors who collectively form the board of the organisation and are responsible for the overall operations. The board members are:

– Linda van der Knaap (Managing Director & Chair)

– Lotte Wandel (Program Coordinator & Treasurer)

– Caro Ilias de Feijter (Program Coordinator & Secretary)

At the time of writing, there is a board of trustees consisting of three members, with the aim of expanding to five members by the summer of 2024. The board of trustees comprises:

– Magda van Eck (Chair)

– Sjouke Ummels (General Trustee)

– Chantal Berkers (General Trustee)

Currently, there are sixteen specialized artists who volunteer their time to implement projects both domestically and internationally. All artists work on a voluntary basis and receive a volunteer allowance for their contributions. The team of professionals is trained to work with displaced children and youth in a trauma-sensitive manner, considering the target audience and their background, psychotrauma, non-violent communication, and white-saviorism. This increases the resilience of the performers and ensures the quality of the work. Training is also provided in pedagogical and performance skills.


Changing Stories Foundation has developed its own method for theater with displaced children and youth, as no such method existed specifically for this target group within this context. To ensure the quality of this form of assistance, CS focuses on the recognition and standardization of the method. In addition to programming projects, the foundation focuses on the following:

  1. Research: Starting from mid-2023, Changing Stories will seek ongoing collaboration with research centers (trauma/post-crisis: hopelessness and displacement) to further develop and improve our experiential theater method. The goal is to enrich and validate the method with research findings on the impact of hopelessness and trauma in children and youth.
  2. Education: It is essential to have a permanent place in the offerings of arts/welfare and theater education programs in the Netherlands to ensure the preservation and transmission of the method. This can be achieved through guest lectures, postgraduate training, or inclusion in regular programs. Existing contacts will be engaged, and collaborative offerings will be developed.


In 2023, Changing Stories Foundation is dependent on 45% of financial contributions from subsidies and funds for project implementation. We generate income through paid admission to performances, workshops, and educational activities in schools, as well as limited compensation for projects at shelter locations in the Netherlands. To secure additional funding, we organize crowdfunding and donation campaigns and provide opportunities for third parties, such as students or churches, to hold fundraising events. All proceeds directly contribute to Changing Stories projects.

Fixed partners and funds

The ambition is to finance all Changing Stories projects for three years starting in 2024 through financial contributions from fixed partners and funds. This approach reduces the effort and energy spent on continuous fundraising, allowing the research and education branch of the foundation to further develop. With the assurance of long-term funding for international projects, the foundation can work towards a sustainable future with well-trained professional theater makers/performers who can directly engage with displaced children and youth and receive compensation for their work.

Friends-of concept

In addition to the guaranteed contribution for three years, we aim to improve the compensation received by our team through the support of a “Friends-of” group consisting of 50 donors. With an annual contribution of €1500 per person, we can adjust the compensation annually. We adhere to the guidelines of the Collective Labor Agreement for Theater and Dance / Dutch Association for Performing Arts (NAPK).

Research Centers

Through collaboration with research centers, there is continuity in the development and improvement of the theater method. Costs for this collaboration are covered by the research centers or funds. Changing Stories shares its knowledge and experience.


By incorporating the method into curriculum offerings, which include explanations and training, there is knowledge transfer and a continuous influx of new actors/performers who can work in this field. The costs for education lie with the educational institutions. Changing Stories shares its knowledge and experience.

Contact details organisation

Changing Stories Foundation
Valckenierstraat 33
6828 RM  Arnhem