Felicia has four children. But not all children have a bed in their apartment in Schiedam. “We have two extra rooms,” she tells EditieNL. “In one room there is a bunk bed for the oldest two at thirteen and eleven years old. In my bedroom the two youngest children aged four and six also sleep in the bed next to me.”
She also has a pull-out bed, which she sometimes puts in the kitchen. “For the two youngest. I change who I put in it.”
She’s very sad. “I think it’s very bad. It causes stress and frustration between the children because they are crammed into each other in the house. In bed, the children wake each other up by bumping into each other in their sleep. Homework is also difficult and therefore happens with grandma.” It is primarily a question of lack of space, says Felicia. “An extra bed simply does not fit. We have been waiting for years for a more spacious rental property, but are not yet eligible for one.”
Help with room decor
The Poverty Fund and Kinderhulp recognize the problem. “Room decor is among the most in-demand categories that people need help with,” says Irene Boersma from Kinderhulp. This includes beds, but also desks, lamps and the like. “In 2021, we helped a child with room decor 5607 times, ie refunded a financial application from a social organization for room decor.”
That this help is desperately needed is also evident from figures from the Social and Cultural Planning Office: In the Netherlands, 315,000 children under the age of 21 live below the poverty line.
The research therefore shows that one in twenty children in group 5 struggle with the same problem. Hundreds of teachers in the Netherlands were questioned for this. “In some schools, there were even whole classes with children who did not have a bed,” says Hans Spek from the Youth Education Fund, one of the parties that commissioned the study. “So we helped, because without a good night’s sleep you can not get well in school.”
Ungdommens Uddannelsesfond wants all children to develop equally well. And it is impossible without a bed, says Spek. “Children sleep poorly and therefore can not concentrate. It is at the expense of school performance and therefore they can not develop into the future.”
Research shows that having your own bed actually makes a difference. “We tracked learning performance and they were improved by leaps and bounds when children got their own bed.”
One organization that comes to the aid of children in deep poverty is the Stichting Kansarmekinderen in the Netherlands. “We primarily provide clothes, toys and school packages for children. But if the need is great, we also provide other things. It can also be beds or bedding,” says Stephanie van Buuren from the foundation to EditieNL.
It happened recently. “Recently, we gave beds to two kids who slept together on a mattress on the floor. A bed is something that makes you think: everyone has it, right? Not like that.”
She thinks it’s a terrible idea that some children do not have a bed. “Your bed is a charging point. Your resting place where you can retire. Sometimes people do not know they can knock on our door for beds, but they can. There is help!”
Having your own bed is very important, Van Buuren emphasizes. “It’s more important than having your own bedroom – which is not possible in some situations. For example, in families with six children. It should not be a problem as long as a child has his own bed where it can create its own place. is as important as clean underwear. “
Having your own bed is especially important in connection with privacy, says educator Krista Okma. “No own bed often means you don’t have your own bedroom, so no place to retreat to,” she says. “It’s also difficult for the parents because they have no privacy. If a child is always in bed with them, it also affects their intimacy and relationship.”
The child then learns not to be alone again. “You don’t get used to it being okay to be alone,” Okma says. “As you get older, it’s important that you learn that you do not always have to have someone around you and that you can also reassure yourself.”
Another reason why Spek from Ungdommens Uddannelsesfond continues to work for children’s own beds. In addition to promoting the school’s performance, ie. “Otherwise, you can already predict who tomorrow’s poor will be: it will be the children of the poor now, for they have no bed,” he says. “We should not have that.”