OverKop house Poperinge is a home for young people: ‘It is important that there are no taboos and value judgments’

The Poperinge OverKop house opened in mid-May on Komstraat 14. Young people up to the age of 25 have a meeting place there and find a listening ear. Meanwhile, OverKop has a regular clique of about 15 guys between the ages of 15 and 20 who have become OverKop ambassadors. “Together with OverKop guests, services, organizations, schools and other facilities, I want to work on building a ‘warmer’ Poperinge,” says youth community worker Dimitri Dennis.

October 1-10 is Mental Health Week. Several OverKop houses have already been built in Flanders and Brussels. OverKop Poperinge started in mid-May and the house is off to a great start. Most of the young people mainly go to the meeting and meeting. OverKop quickly became a meeting place for many young people. We also try to be a place away from need and expectations. Sometimes conversations also bring up topics and questions that require a listening ear,” says youth community worker Dimitri Denis.


“At the end of September, the number of visits to our OverKop house reached 1,160. That is 184 unique visitors, of whom 74 are youngsters who have only visited one at the moment. We have a more regular group of about 10 young people who have come to OverKop more than 30 times.” An audience of high school students in Poperinge or young adults who have just finished their career at school find their way home to the OverKop. The most regular group of visitors are between 15 and 20 years old. The 18-20 age group also provided a lot of input in the initial phase, and some of it is now moving towards ambassadorial activities,” says Demi.

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Young Dimitri Denis, community activist. © LBR

“We still want to make OverKop more popular with the youth and we also want to give the youth more and more ownership of the OverKop run. That is why we created the ambassadors activity where the youth can take on a little bit more commitment if they wish. I support them in this. The youth took over OverKop responsibilities for three weeks in September while I was on vacation and they offered smaller activities. The ambassadors period can range from organizing something, to just being open and being a listening ear. Everyone takes a role according to their abilities and receives support. Anyway we do most things together and training can be provided Additional if needed.”


With OverKop and in collaboration with other services, partners, and organizations, OverKop wants to increase, coordinate, and/or make the show for youth over 12s more accessible so that young people can further develop their talents. “The current scope is still a bit limited, not really attractive or shunned by young people for various reasons. By focusing on talent and not so much on problems, we want to focus on developing a positive identity. Of course, some concerns and questions remain debatable. At the moment no We reach that many girls, even guys who would rather spend their days at home. By making the show more specific and detailed, we can try to reach more guys who might benefit from Operation OverKop or another show,” says Demi.

“A lot is already expected of young people today, so where it is not necessary is also very important.”

“We usually work from the principle of an open house where you can do things with others in your spare time. You are certainly welcome to take part in the activities, but also you are welcome to relax on the sofa with some friends or a mobile phone. There is some basic boxing equipment, and there are board games.” ..we also try to be a place of rest without too much expectation and far from necessity.A lot is already expected of young people today and then the place where it is not necessary is also very important.We try to create a show for and through young people.There have already been some activities Cooking with pita, tacos and desserts. We took care of the graffiti wall at Bellewijk and also did the wall work in our yard. Along with some OverKoppers, we practiced our driver’s license theory B outside hours for two weeks,” says Demi.

“In addition, OverKop will of course also remain a home with a warm listening and caring ear where you can vent, be yourself… It is important here that there are no taboos and value judgments and that I or the ambassadors act as a secret advisor. It is also good to feel weak between Now and then you don’t know very well…”

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OverKop Poperinge house along Komstraat 14.
OverKop Poperinge house along Komstraat 14. © LBR

Primary care psychology

The city council is committed to “the warmth of Poperinge” by caring for the psychological vulnerability and mental health of its residents. “In addition to the OverKop house, we also support the city’s Nests project. This project aims to support children from pre-primary and primary education, who have more difficulty and who have fewer opportunities. Nesten provides social and emotional care and thus supports the school team and children. During the 2022- school year 2023, the city wants to support the project by offering a year of training in which Poperinge schools and institutions are included in this project through deepening, study days and Nest teacher training,” says Alderman Loes Vandromme (CD&V). “In the upcoming school year, we will allow all Poperinge schools and institutions to organize training, study days and intervention moments for Nest teachers or supervisors and school teams.”

Bobring is also interested in the mental health of people over the age of 25. “Young adults from the age of 25 are already considered adults. The city employs a first-rate psychologist who not only supervises individual clients, but also develops preventative measures. In most cases with colleagues from other services. There is also a relatively new non-profit organization Thûs,” says Alderman. Loes Vandromme (CD&V): “This is a voluntary association where people with psychological impairment can join a warm network.”

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