Stichting Leergeld wants to reach more children


Achterhoek – Leergeld Nederland is a foundation that ensures that children from families with minimal financial resources can participate in school and leisure activities. Due to rising costs of living and energy, more and more families are getting into financial difficulties. In our region, Leergeld Oost Achterhoek works hard to give as many children as possible the opportunity to participate in school, sports and culture.

By Sis Huiskamp

Chairman Harry Meulenkamp wants to raise awareness of Leergeld Oost Achterhoek and believes that reaching families better and earlier is a top priority. “Poverty is increasing explosively in our society. Because of corona, social awareness of poverty has increased, but invisible poverty already existed, and it is and will be difficult to put a finger on it. A seven or eight year old child who happens to grow up in a family where financial opportunities are less should also be able to enjoy sports, music, dance and expression. Leergeld enables children to participate by, for example, paying for music lessons, a parental allowance or laptop, sports membership, a school trip or expensive school trips.”

will usually be

“The lack of money should not prevent a child from developing broadly. If it is not possible, anger, isolation, you do not belong. In addition, poverty is a yoke that you carry with you, and it is often accompanied by poor nutrition. Living in poverty is not something you do alone, but usually in a family context. Parents and children don’t talk about it. Shame is usually the reason for it. Leergeld has a structure that is efficient and solid as a rock. A coordinator leads the trained volunteers who act as mediators. They come home to families. The home visits are labor-intensive, but a bond of trust is created, and it pays off a lot. A teacher at school cannot do this on the side. And although the municipal social service is an institution in our society, it is not necessarily the best equipped for situations like this.”

‘Every child
should be possible
to enjoy
of sports,
music, dance
and expression’

Leergeld was created 26 years ago in Brabant, where poverty as a result of factory closures was on the way. Philips made a financial contribution and wanted something sustainable that would benefit families. It succeeded with Leergeld. As a result, parents feel that they are understood and that the burden is partially lifted from their shoulders. Meulenkamp: “The family is the float on which the system floats. You talk to people. The visits make it clear why the situation can sometimes be so oppressive. A new situation can arise as a result of illness, bankruptcy, divorce or death. What kind of house someone lives in doesn’t say everything because there can be a suffocating mortgage. What matters is what remains below the limit of disposable income.”

“I have never seen the format of Leergeld anywhere else, and it works. At national level, there are close ties to the Youth Foundation, the National Foundation for Children’s Aid and Stichting Jarige Jop. The SAM& platform was created through national collaboration. Youth Fund and Leergeld also work together in Gelderland. In 2022, Leergeld received three times as many families for support as in 2021. This is in line with the national development. Politicians also regularly consult Leergeld Nederland. Oost Achterhoek is now active in the municipalities of Berkelland, Oost-Gelre, Aalten/Dinxperlo and Winterswijk. The intention is that the Oude IJsselstreek will soon be added.”

Tuition fees
music lesson,
sports, a
portable or
school trip’

Harry Meulenkamp: “Poverty usually remains hidden. The Privacy Act restricts the free exchange of family data. Our people can still create consignments and gain trust, for example through open days in sports clubs and music schools. But we still want to connect with people who need it faster and better. Society has a role to play if parents cannot allow their children to participate. People must be made aware that, for example, with children who do not have a birthday or are not invited, other factors can play a role.”

Anyone can contact Leergeld Oost Achterhoek. Families, but also acquaintances or neighbours. People who are considering volunteering can also send a message to

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