Buddies (5/5): ‘Hopefully, they’ll become more confident’

Some vulnerable or lonely people could use some help, especially in times of corona. That’s why student Willem Wisselink (third-year Social Work) organises meetings for young people looking for social contact, through youth organisation Impacter.

“The youngsters that go to these meetings are between the ages of 16 and 26 and don’t connect with others easily. They have a hard time joining a group, at their study programmes or clubs. That can cause loneliness, but that’s not the case with these people. Usually, they just want to meet other people or practise meeting them.

The project has only just started but thus far, fire making and archery have been on the schedule. I organise everything together with another guy. When necessary, Impacter helps as well. I also participate in the activity myself and I’m a moderator for the conversations. Sometimes I engage in conversation with the youngsters.
There’s a theme attached from time to time like friendship or vulnerability. I always look at what they need most. We mean to keep everything as accessible as possible. 

Because the guys and girls participate in an activity, they don’t have to talk to each other all the time. That takes some of the pressure off. They don’t need to form friendships immediately either. The most important thing for them is to know they’re not alone. Hopefully, they’ll gain some confidence to take the conversation to other people.

I feel it’s even more important to contribute to society in these difficult times. It’s the least I can do. I have more time too because a lot of things have been cancelled. Whenever I can, I spend my time usefully and it helps me too. I can’t complain, I’ve got nice roommates and good friends. But I see people a lot less often, especially in groups. Since these meetings take place outside, there are more possibilities. I like that: meeting new people and spending time outside.”

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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