Achterhoek – Leergeld Nederland is an institution that guarantees children from families with limited financial resources to participate in school and extracurricular activities. Due to the rising costs of living and energy, more and more families are facing financial hardship. In our district, Leergeld Oost Achterhoek works hard to enable as many children as possible to take part in school, sports and culture.
By Cees Hoeskamp
Chairman Harry Meulenkamp wants to raise awareness of Leergeld Oost Achterhoek and believes that reaching families better and earlier is a top priority. “Poverty is escalating explosively in our society. Because of the Corona virus, social awareness of poverty has increased, but hidden poverty does exist, and it is difficult to put a finger on it. A child of seven or eight years old who grew up in a family where financial possibilities are less, should also be able “Leergeld enables children to participate, for example, by paying for music lessons, a parent’s contribution, a laptop, a sports membership, or an expensive school trip or trips.”
The lack of money should not prevent the child from growing widely. If that’s not possible, resentment, isolation, you don’t belong. In addition, poverty is a yoke that you carry with you and is often accompanied by malnutrition. Living in poverty is not something you do alone, but usually in a family context. Parents and children don’t talk about it. Shame is usually the reason for this. Leergeld features an efficient, rock-solid construction. The coordinator mentors the trained volunteers who act as mediators. They come home to families. These home visits are labor intensive, but a bond of trust is created and this leads to a lot. The teacher at school can’t do it on the side. And although the municipal social service is an institution in our society, it is not necessarily better equipped for such situations.”
Should be possible
to have fun
Music and dance
and expression ‘
Leergeld was created 26 years ago in Brabant, where poverty as a result of factory closures was taking its toll. Philips made a financial contribution and wanted something sustainable that would benefit families. We have succeeded with Leergeld. As a result, the parents feel that they are understood and that the burden has been partially lifted from their shoulders. Meulenkamp: “The family is the buoy on which the system floats. You talk to the people. The visits show why a situation can sometimes be so oppressive. A new situation can arise as a result of illness, bankruptcy, divorce or death. What kind of house does a person live in?” What doesn’t say it all because there could be a stifling mortgage. What matters is what stays below the disposable income line.”
“I have never seen the Leergeld format in action anywhere else. Nationally there are close ties with the Youth Fund, the National Children’s Aid Fund and Stichting Jarige Jop. The SAM & platform was created through national collaboration. The Youth Fund and Leergeld also work together in Gelderland In 2022, Leergeld receives three times as many households to support in 2021. This is in line with national developments Leergeld Nederland is also regularly consulted by politicians Oost Achterhoek now operates in the municipalities of Berkelland, Oost-Gelre, Aalten/Dinxperlo and Winterswijk. Oude IJsselstreek to be added soon.”
Harry Meulenkamp: “Poverty usually remains hidden. Privacy law restricts the free exchange of family data. Our employees can still set up correspondence and gain trust, for example through open days at sports clubs and music schools. But we still want to be in touch with people who need it.” “Society has a role to play if parents cannot allow their children to participate. People should be aware that, for example, with children not giving or not invited to a birthday party, other factors can play a role.”
Anyone can contact Leergeld Oost Achterhoek. Families, but also acquaintances or neighbors. People thinking of becoming volunteers can also send a message to Coordinator@leergeldoostachterhoek.nl.