Buddies (2/5): ‘He has always been in a sort of lockdown’

Some vulnerable or lonely people could use some help, especially in times of corona. That’s why student Ruud Kamp (first-year Social Work) is a buddy for two fifteen-year-old boys with psychological problems.

“One of the boys has autism and lives in a commune. He’s doing quite well but his autism is a challenge. He gets confused when plans change for example. I visit him for a couple of hours each week. We often go for a walk, but we don’t necessarily talk about his autism. We talk about school, his family or the future. He’s getting along fine, but it’s important for him to see people from outside his commune from time to time.

Parade float
My other buddy is different. He suffers from PTSS, autism and a chromosomal abnormality. He’s always at home. He has always been in a sort of lockdown, so it’s good for him to see someone other than his mother or his brother.

We do fun things together. We often work on his parade float for carnival. He loves carnival; he lives for carnival. The fact that it has been cancelled for the second year in a row is very difficult for him, but building and decorating that float means everything to him.

When I come by, he can relax. He doesn’t have to think about anything for a while and that helps him clear his head. ‘Mate’, ‘pal’, he calls me. He trusts me and I trust him. Sometimes his mother texts me that he’s having a rough day, but whenever I come by, he’s doing much better. 

My buddies have a completely different life than me. To me that’s interesting, I can learn a lot from that. I want to work with adolescents later as well, so this is the perfect practice. I think that group of people is very important. I think the boys I visit have been forgotten by society. I, on the other hand, enjoy spending time with them and seeing them.”

Text: Silke Polhuijs
Photos: Jasper van Overbeek

Want to do voluntary work?

There are multiple options in Zwolle. ‘Hart voor Zwolle’ for example, aims at buddy-projects. The foundation saw an increase in loneliness last year. For more info check: stichtinghartvoorzwolle.nl

Or project ‘Impacter’ by ‘Samen Zwolle’. Aimed at youngsters aged 14-27 who want to discover and utilise their own passion and talent through voluntary work. For more info check: impacterzwolle.nl

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