Ahmed Marcouch: More options for children with Arnhem East approach

Ahmed Marcouch, mayor of Arnhem, sits passionately in his lectern when he talks about the Arnhem East approach. Arnhem East is a large project worth 17 million euros, which Arnhem can benefit from. His story begins how he grew up in Holland as a child and went to VMBO B to become a carpenter. When it got tough, his brother said that Lech Wałęsa, the trade union leader who became the Prime Minister of Poland, had also started as a regular dock worker. “In that case, not everyone needs to become instructors, but every child should have the opportunity to develop their own talents,” says Marcouch

By Rob Klingen and Chris Zeevenhooven

You are the driving force behind the project, you can give a little more clarity about Arnhem East Approach

“I am pleased that there is attention to the approach and that the city council takes it broadly. We invest in the part of the city where there is a need for what we participate in the government program, and we are one of the 16 areas in which the government invests. This is partly due to housing, building and making housing more sustainable. It is about improving the quality of life, making the neighborhood greener, but also about behavior, supervision and improving the safety of the neighborhoods. The Arnhem East approach is for me about the ‘pedagogical neighborhoods’, I repeat to the annoyance of some that we must strengthen the educational climate in those neighborhoods. That should be the core of the approach. ”

Youth work is actually training work

An example of this is the football tournament, which was held in Arnhem at the end of June, and where 14 teams from Arnhem participated. There was a good and sporty atmosphere there. Participants are taught to behave athletically towards management and each other and to deal with winning and losing.

Football in itself is no different, but the new thing is how they organize it. Youth work is actually training work, they really need to give the young people something for their future and not just entertain them. They must take the pedagogical task seriously. The Kinderwijk team is a good example of this; do things, learn something, wear a vest, correct if necessary. So educate!

Look at children as if they were your own brother or sister

What you want is for every child to have a good environment around them, a role model to help, children are sometimes called stupid, or ass, and the statement, “it will never work with you,” does not help children. Look at children as if they were your own brother or sister. What you do not want to happen to your brother or sister should not happen to those children. Step in if necessary. We have good examples of initiatives such as Presikhaaf University and the AM support team in Malburgen. Rijnstad also has good youth workers, but what our implementing organizations must always keep in mind is that the money is not spent too much in the organization, but in the workers. In addition, professionals need the right management, which encourages them to do the right things on the spot.

Can the initiators of Malburgen and Presikhaaf also help other neighborhoods to spread their methodology?

I think it’s already happening. They are invited all over the country, but what we need to avoid is taking the good workers out of the neighborhood and putting them behind desks and doing paperwork. There is a need for an educational environment for children and young people. So being a youth worker is more than a job, it has to be a passion.

Can you apply the idea of ​​improving the educational climate at Geitenkamp

I would like parents there to have good conversations with each other about issues they need to deal with in parenting. They should do it together, but you need to initiate and organize that conversation. You need good professionals for that. People are not pathetic, because it does not benefit people. What they need is good education and after-school and training work with a focus on further development. The children deserve a richer school day with more activities and experiences after school that help the children. Ultimately, it is about spreading that children come first and that we organize an educational environment around a child. Sports and culture, learning to win and learning to lose, that’s what it’s all about. The Arnhem East approach is primarily there to offer people opportunities and opportunities. We need to challenge and support, which not everyone can handle on their own.

Know the neighborhoods of the Arnhem East approach

The people in the neighborhoods may not know Arnhem East as an administrative term for the program, but if it is not clear enough, we can tell more about that title, but I think it is especially important to show the deeds. Results such as supervision, obtaining diplomas and job search speak for themselves. I like to tell that to the neighborhood’s platforms. The Neighboring Managers of Team Leefmilieu are the ambassadors for this approach, they need to pick it up from City Hall and bring it into the neighborhood and vice versa. We may not always see it everywhere, but in areas where a lot is happening and where people are suffering from poverty, we want to make a difference. Knowing about neighborhoods has two elements: It is about neighborhoods and knowledge, so that initiators do not have to be maneuvered in the bureaucracy by the professionals. Let the enthusiastic and involved people do the work they are good at and be encouraged to do so.

What role do neighborhood platforms play in the Arnhem East approach

The neighboring platforms consist of people who are involved in their living environment in the neighborhood, I have great respect for that, but we also want people who are not organized to know what is going on. If the members and residents of the neighboring platform do not know enough about the Arnhem East approach, then we should take that criticism to heart. But now we must pay special attention to the implementation, because we can only make it succeed together with committed people in Arnhem. Let the deeds speak and pass on the successes. I walk with hard skin on my feet and tap the blisters on my fingers, but if there is more to tell, then we should. For we must start a movement in the city with the realization that many people in the city are busy lifting our neighborhoods.

Is there room in the implementation for experiments?

I think that if we use unorthodox methods, then we should also be able to do experiments. If the workers encounter the limits of the rules, the workers must also have room to find out something else. But one must also be able to talk to people when things need to be done differently, so a little paternalism is not wrong. The key is that the educational climate in the neighborhoods that need it is improved because people and children are given opportunities in life. Thus we strengthen the city and close the gap between rich and poor. I want to sow and water in the city districts to grow and thrive together. ” The field must be well worked for.


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