“We want to work based on trust” – program managers Social Initiatives

It was a turbulent year for the partner organizations of our Social Initiatives program. Program Managers Ria de Jong and Job Rijneveld look back on 2021 and tell us about the most important developments in the program.

What is your impression of 2021?
Job: “The lockdowns and coronavirus measures made people difficult to reach again, just like in 2020. Counselors had a hard time visiting people at home. That is what we heard for example from the foundation Leergeld, our partner organization that keeps an eye on children living in poverty. In addition, the number of women who had to seek refuge at a women’s shelter increased worryingly. Stress and isolation seem to have bred domestic violence. The lockdown was also dramatic for many undocumented migrants, who often lost their jobs.”
Ria: “Our program is mainly about meetings and bringing people together. We weren’t able to organize these things in 2021 like we are used to, in part due to the coronavirus measures. It is heartwarming to see the ingenuity of our partner organizations, which enabled them to find ways of reaching their target group, online and offline.”

Left: Ria de Jong. Right: Job Rijneveld

What are the important developments in your program?
Job: “We want to work based on trust. With partners who already support people in vulnerable situations, without too many strings attached. A lot of government assistance revolves around control, which is designed to prevent abuse of such resources. This does raise barriers and often goes wrong, Just think of the disastrous childcare benefits scandal. As a foundation, we want to show through our partners that things can be done differently. If foundations make this known and take a chance, we hope the government will follow suit.”
Ria: “One particular strategic direction we want to explore further is our work with people with lived experience. Network DAK has started an initiative in which people with certain lived experience, who live in poverty or are homeless, initiate conversations with civil servants and people in key positions at housing corporations. In short: facilitating listening to people who are far away from the powers.”
Job: “In our theme Migration and Asylum, we are also exploring ways to let refugees play an even more prominent role. We want to enable them to formulate their needs themselves, both at the shelter and after they have received a residence permit.”

Can you give us an idea of the program activities you will be conducting in 2022?
Ria: “We want to bring even more focus on our theme youth and society, and particularly projects by and for young people. In this particular area, we also see a giant gap between the people it concerns, the youth in this case, and policymakers who have the final say in such matters. We also want to find out how to spark young people into action. What should we be doing to inspire young people to take action and want to be of importance to their community? This could include organizing homework assistance for fellow students or a dinner party for lonely neighbors.”
Job: “The year 2021 was the year of new refugees from Afghanistan, the persistent armed chaos in Syria, the full emergency shelters in the Netherlands, and violence on Europe’s borders. Migration and asylum will once again be relevant topics in 2022. The war in Ukraine is causing more people to flee. We plan to intensify our collaboration with fellow foundations, both in the Netherlands and in Europe, to make life easier for refugees.”

Social Initiatives Program

Adessium strives to create a society in which people live together with respect and compassion for one another and in which everyone can participate equally. We are working on a society that is characterized by humanity and solidarity.

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