‘If you give children attention, you get something in return’

Joyce Verhoef has worked under Rijnstad’s banner for 21 years as a child worker in Klarendal. She saw whole generations grow up. “The children have their own children now. They also come back to us. I think that’s brilliant. Being a familiar face in the neighborhood for a long time has added value. Then you can really achieve something.”

By Hilde Wijnen

“In the third year of my studies, I was an intern at Het Broek, and I was introduced to child labor for the first time. At that time, Het Stoplicht (community center -ed.) Still existed. It was old school community house work: organizing activities for children who were having a hard time at home, very accessible. I immediately fell in love with it, ”says child laborer Joyce Verhoef. After her studies she changed districts, Het Broek became Klarendal, but her love of work continued.

“We used to be the assembly hall that was supposed to keep the young people off the streets. The goal was a little less obvious, but what we have always done and still do now: We offer children development opportunities. They can learn a lot from us, especially socially. What you hope for is that you give them enough to become better citizens. What does it mean? That they stand firm in society and know how to treat others: how to approach each other, not to throw out their rubbish and that, if you do not agree, you should not fight with each other, but talk to each other or go away, e.g. People sometimes ask me if I do not even want to do something else, but I am far from done. Sometimes it’s hard. You do such beautiful things in the neighborhood, but you also have to deal with money, politics and social expectations. Sometimes you really find yourself in a split. The good thing about this is that you keep moving. There are so many developments. I want to be in the middle of it. ”


What does it look like in practice? Quite varied, it turns out. MFC Klarendal is Rijnstad’s operating base in the district. There is a club after school almost every weekday where the kids from the neighborhood can join. Joyce: “Tuesdays and Thursdays there is the Homework Club. That name does not completely cover it. Kids can do homework, but this afternoon is really meant to give them support in areas where they sometimes don’t get it at home. Tables teach, for example, but they can also choose to be read to because it is not obvious to everyone. The children receive one-on-one or two-two instruction. Or they play games. The common thread is always to learn social skills. About fifty children attend. The homework club started with project money for three years. Now the money has become structural. We are very proud of that! ”


Wednesday is Kids Club Day. “It’s the most accessible day. Then everyone is really welcome. It doesn’t matter what your home situation is. Sometimes there are as many as eighty children around. Children who are feeling well also come to us. It is also important that it is a mixture. ”


Monday is reserved for projects. “This day we want to tailor something, offer something that is in demand. This is how the Junior Club was created – aimed at language skills – for children in group three. And the older kids are working on the project Narrators, which was conceived by one of our volunteers. They learn to tell their own story and we also try to create a link to the neighborhood. What is the story of the baker’s sandwich e.g. Or what’s the story of the sweater in the store? We are working on the second series. The first group has made a booklet and this group is working on a calendar. They also take them to the printing house themselves. ”


Of course, Joyce does not do it alone to guide so many children. She works with interns and volunteers. “I have a great team. I consciously choose that dynamic. I like excitement. During the week I have about thirty interns. I no longer play groups myself. I coordinate and direct, I sometimes get lost in other tasks. That’s the hardest part about this job for me: making sure I do not disappear behind the computer. I want to keep in touch with the interns, but also with the children. This often means that I am still behind the computer in the evening to update things. . ”

A thousand possibilities

Kids can visit Joyce and her team at MFC almost every day of the week and during the school holidays. “We offer every child a safe place, and we have an eye and ear for everyone. Sometimes we are a deputy home for them. This work once started with organizing activities, but if you are not good at it, it does not matter. It’s about everything around it. The most important thing is to look good. Who do you have in front of you? What is the background? Volunteers sometimes tell me I’m one of a thousand options. Yes, children always have a new chance with me. Annoying behavior comes from somewhere. We can say: after twice you fly out, but that’s not what we are for. It’s so important to get another chance. Every child has potential. And if you give children attention, you get something back. ”


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