Why do these Hanze students volunteer? Because… well, here’s why

From eating soup with the elderly to saving stray cats. Why do students volunteer? Because they want to help and because… well, just for that.


“I had Arab friends,” says Syrian Luna. But we didn’t really fit in. I really wanted to make good Dutch friends. How did you do that? Well, Luna has joined wake up your mind From Vluchtelingenwerk, a track where six Dutchmen and six status holders work together. This is how I met Bert. “I haven’t lived in Groningen for six months and I wanted to meet new people,” says Taleb associate degreeProfessional pedagogical training.

Bert: Luna and I are talking about anything

“This is not a friendly project in which the Dutch support the beneficiaries,” says project leader Margaret Bos. “Wake up your mind on equality. Young Dutch and status quo learn from each other. Set up a project together, find a place and manage the budget.”
The Luna and Bert group organized a cultural celebration. They had to find a location, make decorations, and arrange the food themselves. “The Dutch were more interested in arranging the site,” says Luna. “Some foreigners did not dare to take this initiative.” “But you were so much better at making food again,” Burt says. “I really couldn’t beat this falafel.”

PEP student Birte (left) and Luna from Syria help each other out with Wake Up Your Mind.

Luna would like to study pharmacy at the University of Groningen next year. “Birte is helping me with the paperwork I have to fill out.” Bert wants to focus on interacting with other cultures while teaching. I am now more aware of stereotypes. The picture I had of Syrian refugees, for example. We may have a different outlook on life, but we can talk about anything.

ease, a listening ear for young people

“I know psychiatric care from my own experience,” says Danic, who studies biology and medical laboratory research. I have experienced shocks and fears. Sometime I didn’t dare to go out anymore. Then I asked for help.
The positive experience with the help ensured Danique joined ease as a volunteer, an organization where young people could knock on the door to have a good conversation. I wanted to give back and help others. Hence it can be useful if you have experienced these kinds of things yourself.

Student volunteer work
In Danique from ease, young people can vent.

Conversation with a volunteer can be about anything and everything. “Every young person aged 12 to 25 who can breathe can come to us, by chatting or stopping by,” Danique says. The conversations are very diverse. About a friend who wants a relationship with you, for example. These are the funny conversations. Then you look and ask questions. Do you want it yourself? How do you deal with it? The deeper conversations revolve around divorced parents, heartbreak, fear, and suicide. “You want to do everything you can to help someone like this, but you don’t always succeed.”

“Even if I couldn’t quite help someone, I did a good thing”

Volunteers are well prepared to work. “Before you start, you’ll have a two-day training, in which you get to know the group and practice the conversation,” Danique says. And if a volunteer has a problem: ease always has professionals on hand who can help them with advice and help.
On average, ease volunteers have about three conversations in one afternoon (a session scheduled once a month). Volunteers take a long time to have a conversation. “It’s important to comfort someone and have an open conversation to explain everything.”
Danique has her own tactics for dealing with intense conversations. “Music and then a bike ride or a walk. I go through everything in my head. Then I often think: Maybe I couldn’t quite help someone, but I did something good anyway. It makes me feel good.”

animal ambulance

“We were sometimes called at night for the stick bug,” says Yuri, an animal ambulance volunteer. The lady who called saw the insect sitting on her doorstep and did not dare to touch it. Normally we don’t come for these kinds of reports, but my colleague went for it anyway. When he arrived and looked closely, it turned out that the stick insect was a dry grain of thread.
Yuri thinks these are the best notifications. “But we also get a lot of unpleasant phone calls. About collapsing cats, for example. I am an animal lover from the bottom of my heart, but in serious condition, sometimes I hope the blow is fatal. Then the animal does not have to suffer unnecessarily. After all We are not allowed to euthanasia.

New volunteers receive extensive internship in Animal Ambulance. Learn about first aid, management and everything you need to know. Moreover, she always goes out with an experienced colleague. I found the most warm management. We really have to keep track of everything about the animals and our work.

Student volunteer work
Yuri the animal lover is willing to pay for it, four shifts every five hours a week.

Youri works four shifts of about five hours each week. Night shifts are also included. Then it works longer, from 9:30 PM to 7.30 AM. But working long hours is not mandatory. However, the minimum is ten hours per week. Every Wednesday you indicate that you cannot work, then the tables are set.
Yuri wants to become an ambulance nurse. I will soon take a Nursing Admission Test at Hans. After that I still have a long way to go. Working in an animal ambulance is a logical step for now. Many situations are the same as with people.

In any case, work is rarely boring. “A few months ago we received a report of a panicked cat,” says Yuri. “We had to grab it with some kind of fishing pole, that beast was aggressive.” Since the animal was fitted with an electronic chip, its mates were able to track its owner. He lost it for three years, but when he came to pick up the cat, the animal changed as if by magic. The cat may suddenly cuddle. That was very special.

benefit? Call 050579 1900 or send an email.

Grandma’s soup

“Some old people only tell their whole life story when you eat soup with them,” says Bing Scott, a student in commercial economics. Grandpa Yap, for example. He lives in Boterdiep and lived through World War II. He told me one day how he sat in the basement with his brother during liberation. It was hard to hear, but it was also fun.

Before Bing came to Oma’s Soep, he worked in a nursing home for people with dementia in Laren. I really fell in love with the old people there. My grandparents in Sint Maarten are already in their 80s, but they still do volunteer work. They work with the inmates and on the animal ambulance. They really taught me to do this.

Grandma's soup volunteer
Bing Scott behind Grandma’s soup pots and pans.

At Oma’s Soep, volunteers and seniors eat together at a community center as a social moment during the week. Seniors – eight to ten at each meeting – come through word of mouth and flyers they see. Soup is free. “Many old people want to pull out the wallet,” Ping laughs. ‘But you really don’t have to. We pay for the components of the donations we receive. It is the contribution of the National Corporation that sells Uma soup and meals in the supermarket.

In Groningen, there are always 35 old people who join Grandma’s soup

Volunteers and seniors often cook together. “Then we deliberately choose a difficult recipe, with a lot of chopping,” Bing says. “When you’re busy with something else, it’s easier to talk.” Oma’s Soep has about 35 permanently elderly people in Groningen queuing up to get the soup. Volunteers bring soup to others. We always make it clear that we are there. Just ask how they are doing.
Bing spends about two hours a week on administrative matters, such as upgrading and arranging locations to eat together. In addition, he stands behind pots and pans twice a month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Although such an afternoon cooking is sometimes late. Recently, a volunteer brought soup to Grandpa Jan. He is absolutely crazy about making music. Then they drank beer and played the saxophone until about nine in the evening.


On September 23, 3pm-7pm, you can meet with volunteer organizations during the Volunteer Market on the ground floor of the Groninger Forum.

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