A helping hand for all Amsterdammers who are struggling


Volunteers may accompany people on a walk, help with errands, or even just offer an ear for a comforting chat

The volunteering platform Voor Elkaar in Amsterdam offers help to anyone currently experiencing difficulties. Volunteers may accompany people on a walk, help with errands, or even just offer an ear for a comforting chat. With strict coronavirus measures still in place, it can sometimes be hard for people to keep their spirits up. At the moment, vulnerable Amsterdammers are not able to leave their homes. The same applies to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who is a close contact that is self-isolating. As a result, people can be left feeling lonely. The volunteering platform Voor Elkaar in Amsterdam is there for anyone who needs help. “Amsterdam’s neighbourhood organisations have joined forces to give residents the best possible help during the coronavirus crisis,” coordinator Jorrit Boomgaardt explains. “And there are more than enough volunteers to make a difference”

6,000 volunteers

Since its launch in March, around 6,000 volunteers have registered with Voor Elkaar in Amsterdam, helping almost 3,000 residents who were struggling in some way. The organisation’s staff members match volunteers with people who need help in each neighbourhood. “As a starting point, we often help with practical matters, such as helping with groceries or walking the dog,” says Jorrit Boomgaardt. “But sometimes we find out on the phone that people are hardly having any contact or are already suffering from loneliness. We then pair them with a buddy in their neighbourhood, for example, or let them know about enjoyable online courses or training sessions. That often opens up a whole new world to them.”

Collaborating with the Public Health Service

If necessary, the contact tracing team at the public health service (GGD) may refer people directly to Voor Elkaar in Amsterdam. “If someone tests positive and has to stay at home, it’s a way we can offer a helping hand,” says contact tracing team leader Eline van Dulm. “Our team members always check if anyone needs any extra help. If they do, we can connect them with the volunteers at Voor Elkaar in Amsterdam.”

Like winning the lottery’

Many people have been delighted by the help they receive via Voor Elkaar in Amsterdam.One woman from Amsterdam West emailed to say, “Wouter helped me remotely with my computer. And this morning Sarah did my shopping. It’s fantastic!” Another resident in Noord said, “I just wanted to let you know how happy I am with Bart, the boy who walks my dog and does the shopping. I was always alone and because of this rotten virus I couldn’t go outside. Bart has felt like winning the lottery.”

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