Chapter 2


The Participation & Self-Dependence Program is organized for residents whether they need temporary support for the improvement of specific skills or not. Basic skills such as language, digital competence, and mathematics, but also skills that are necessary to participate in society, can be addressed.  They may be so-called ‘newcomers’ or people from another culture for whom our society, with all its norms and values, as well as a different language, is completely new. They may also be people who are unable to adapt (temporarily) to the rapid pace of our society due to personal reasons or circumstances.  We provide support for these residents, together with our partners in the social domain, by developing projects that meet their immediate needs. An important aspect of this is recognizing the presence of prejudices. They exist in every society, including ours. We contribute to ultimately eliminating any prejudices by addressing this topic in discussions during our activities. 

The Participation & Self-Dependence Program began in 2020 the same as every other year. There was good communication with partners and in the first two months several processes and trainings were organized in the De Mare community center, Aktief talent, and with WNK Personeelsdiensten (for staff members with a work disability). Then the coronavirus came. All planned activities had to be cancelled immediately due to the enforced restrictions to prevent the spreading of the virus. Digital: the new normal? We were lucky enough to be able to contact the people who needed our assistance via our partners and our own social medial canals. Unfortunately, without the usual cup of coffee in the library, or on location with one of our partners. The ‘new normal’ was meeting up online or by phone, but for many people being online was not that simple. We telephoned members and taught them how to make video calls and gave tips on the features and challenges of internet. This is how we assisted grandparents to facetime with their grandchildren. We also taught people how to use WhatsApp, take photos and send them via their mobile. We were able to assist over 150 residents within our community this way.


150 residents


Support for professionals and volunteers Our partner professionals and volunteers were also confronted with challenges in the initial period. How do you organize a Teams or Zoom meeting for example? We gave guidance and support from the library so that as many activities as possible could continue online. Meanwhile, together we realized that even more people were becoming digitally competent due to the coronavirus. It would be going too far to say that we were happy there was a virus, but it did somehow have a positive side-effect.

Poëzielijn (Poetry Line)

We continued to provide telephone support to people who were unable to make contact online. For example, when people received letters and did not understand the contents, we offered to explain the letters to them, but we also found time for some relaxation. Patrons could ring the Poetry Line five days per week to hear a beautiful poem being read out loud, as well as chatting about it afterwards. One family with school-aged children took advantage of this opportunity when the schools were closed. Together they would listen to the poem via the telephone speaker, and then discuss it afterwards. This helped to stimulate the children’s language development in another way again in home schooling education.

In brief

Highlights from the Participation & Self-Dependence Program in 2020


We received requests of help in the Participation & Self-Dependence Program that typically resulted from the coronavirus period the past year. In the initial weeks of the first lockdown for instance, many people cleaned up their homes, but there were no markets to sell their goods. We received a request from a group of men who wanted to know how works. We later heard that they succeeded in selling their goods and that in the future the group would make use of this online service to dispose of their old belongings. There was, however, a negative side: because there were so many interesting items for sale on the site, some had bought just as many new products for their homes as they had just sold.

250 parents and children

received a language bag

Spelen-met-taaltasjes (Play with language bags)

We made the so-called ‘Spelen-met-taaltasjes’ together with the primary schools in Alkmaar and Heerhugowaard. The use of these bags helped parents and children discover how much fun it is to play with language and numbers. A response received by one of the teachers in a thank you app shows that it was appreciated by both children and parents. In Heerhugowaard, 250 parents and children were given bags. In 2021 they receive a game page with tips every month so that they can continue to play new language and number games.

Rap away coronavirus frustrations

The coronavirus period is a difficult time for young people and brings frustration. In partnership with Jongerenwerk Castricum and MET Heerhugowaard, we created an opportunity for adolescents to vent the challenges they face in life via a rap. Alderman Ron de Haan, Gemeente Castricum, came to listen to the rap the young people from his district had written and to talk with them. It was a wonderful experience for them to draw attention to the challenges they face in a positive way and discuss them with someone in politics.

Theme meetings

The theme meetings we organized the past year tie in with the existing coronavirus measures, like the theme Stoptober at WNK Personeelsdiensten. The discussions were on health, freedom of choice, and their possible consequences. It was also about what information was available about this on internet, and importantly, how do you know if that information is accurate.

Even more online

As well as the earlier examples, even more activities went online. The ROC practice group, for example, has been partially online the past year. Job application training was also given online, and still had 90 participants. Finally, the Taal Café in Heerhugowaard also went online. One of the participant’s daughters said that her mother had not yet spoken Dutch to anyone during the lockdown. The online Taal Café however, ensured that she was able to talk to people, while practicing Dutch at the same time.