A Netherlands befriending project – find out more about Humanitas Tandem22 February 2012
MBF partnered with the Humanitas Association in The Netherlands (as well as CSV and BBC Radio 1) in September 2011 to develop a flagship conference about broadcasting and its role in promoting volunteering. This was developed as part of the European Year of Volunteering 2011 and brought together broadcasters and volunteering organisations to share ideas and success stories about how to attract volunteers.
The following information is about the work of Humanitas Tandem, a befriending project that is part of the umbrella organisation, Humanitas Association:
Humanitas Tandem, The Netherlands
Evidence of need
The Netherlands has seen an increasing amount of social isolation and social exclusion resulting in greater numbers of people feeling lonely and unhappy. This lack of social support leads to low self-esteem making it more difficult to engage with other people and results in ever reducing contact with society as fewer social networking opportunities are accessed. This creates a vicious cycle which requires breaking through targeted interventions such as the one described here.
About the organisation
Humanitas Tandem provides a range of tailored services to help address this problem of social isolation and is a broad-based buddy project where participants are linked to a volunteer buddy.
The word ‘tandem’ is a metaphor for the values of the Humanitas organisation e.g., the participant sits at the front of the tandem and determines the direction and purpose while the volunteer pedals along behind to create support, equality and balance.
Humanitas Tandem work with anyone who feels isolated and alone and participants include those with psychological problems, children, elderly, migrant women, refugees, prisoners, women who have experienced domestic violence and so on.
The organisation also works in a co-operative way and brings together a network of aid agencies and volunteer organisations to explore how loneliness and social isolation can be identified and addressed.
Humanitas Tandem operates with funding based on performance agreements.
The buddying approach
Each participant is linked to a volunteer buddy (in the Netherlands it’s called ‘maatje’) who provides social support to increase self-confidence and empower the participant in whatever ways they choose. Activities are undertaken together with the aim of breaking the isolation, expanding their social networks and actively participating in society again.
The relationship can last for up to one year when the hoped for outcome is that the participant will be independent again and have regained greater control over their lives. Self-determination and personal responsibility are the values which underpin the buddying service.
The volunteers also come from very different backgounds and the buddying relationship offers meaningful volunteering opportunities and also includes participants who have been through the buddying process and want to give something back as a volunteer.
Research has shown that participants with a buddy see significantly less decline in their (often unwanted) old behaviour.
Go to the Humanitas Tandem website for further information, please note this website is in Dutch but can easily be translated using the translation options on your web browser.