The Leefkringhuis, Amsterdam – Ongoing project
The Leefkringhuis in Amsterdam-Noord is situated in the Vogelbuurt. This neighborhood is the worst place in Amsterdam to grow up. In a nationwide survey by the Verwey-Jonker Institute the neighborhood was number 19 on the list of worst neighborhoods in the Netherlands.
RCAI has been supporting The Leefkringhuis for the last 18 years. It started when Caty Asscher was the psychologist for some of the children in the Leefkringhuis. Caty realized the need, hence the start of this relationship.
Over the years RCAI has supported the children of the Leefkringhuis. This support consisted of advice, financial support in times of need (back taxes), introductions to key people in government and/or private industry, IKEA (via IKEA manager and RCAI member) financed a school bus, fundraising event in 2014 etc.
RCAI is considered the last resort in times of need.
Every year the Christmas party takes place with a lunch provided by the Hilton, courtesy of Roberto Payer, presents from Santa Claus and a visit to the Wereldkerstcircus. 18 children, from the Leefkringhuis and disadvantaged children from the neighborhood, participate. It is their highlight of the year.
The Gere Paulussen Leefkringhuis has three main activities:
1) 24-hour care centers:
- 24-hour care center for children, offering a home to children that need a temporary place to stay, a safe haven. The atmosphere in this shelter is the same as if they were in a large and normal family, going to school, doing their homework, eating regularly etc., the only difference: there are no parents but highly dedicated female helpers.
- 24-hour care center for mothers with or without children, so called Blijf van mijn lijfhuis; safe houses, where they live in a safe environment away from their problems and where they receive guidance on how to solve these problems, get back on their feet.
2) Ambulatory Assistance support center which operates for het entire Amsterdam-Noord urban area (90,000 inhabitants) offering a kind of one-stop-shopping-counter for people that need help; the majority of the cases are related to home violence and poverty, varying from filling out simple paperwork, social support, and getting study loans to eviction orders and beatings.
3) Food Banks:
- over 350 households are dependent on the food packages that are distributed once a week.
The RCAI support is directed at the children of the 24-hour shelter, not at the other tasks.
These other tasks were in the past paid for by subsidies of Amsterdam-Noord, the city of Amsterdam (DWI) and donations from foundations and companies such as Ahold.
This year the city of Amsterdam, Amsterdam-Noord and several of the foundations and companies signed an agreement to ensure the future of the Leefkringhuis (for the next three years) especially with regard to the tasks such as the 24-hour safe houses (Blijf van mijn Lijf), ambulatory assistance and the food banks.
The Leefkringhuis for children, the 24-hour care center where the children live will always need our help, they are not part of the social impact bond agreement signed by the different parties.
RCAI reference members:
Marijke van Bodengraven