article from Trouw

Children's stamps and Valentine

Let children participate as much as possible

Every child needs a safe place. A place where you can be yourself, where you can relax and where there are people who support you. Kinderposttempels helps children who lack a safe place, for example by linking them to a buddy, or through projects in foster care and emergency shelter. So that they too can participate again. We provide this help together with our partner Valente.

Valente is the trade association for participation, guidance and safe care. 'Our organizations offer social shelter, assisted and sheltered housing and women's shelter. Attention to children is a transcendent theme within Valente," says Valente director Esmé Wiegman.

'Children come with mothers in women's shelters and with parents in social shelters. They deserve attention themselves, because they have been through a lot.'

Commitment to children

Sofie Vriends has been director of Kinderposttempels since April. 'Everyone knows Kinderposttempels, it is one of the best-known organizations that promotes equal opportunities for children. People have warm feelings about it, but they don't know that there is a charity behind it, which has been committed to the well-being of children in vulnerable situations for 100 years. During those 100 years, we were always at the cutting edge of the times and helped children who were having a hard time at the time. We were at the origin of the Kindertelefoon, the Children's Ombudsman and the Children's Rights Collective. At the back, we are a serious organization that has done a lot for children of all generations, but mainly in silence.

'In recent years, approximately 125,000 children have gone door to door to sell children's stamps every year.' We asked these children a question this year: What problems do children in the Netherlands face? And what should we do about it?' says Vriends. 'They have clearly chosen a number of topics. Poverty was number 1. And a safe home was number 2. We found it striking that they mentioned this so clearly, and saw that these are the themes that hurt in the here and now. Children have a very keen sense of empathy. They show that in their choice. If the basics are not in order, children want immediate action.'

'Ensuring that basic facilities such as a safe place are in order is where Kinderposttempels and Valente meet,' Wiegman emphasizes. 'If you identify this group of children in time, you hope that you can prevent things like homelessness. That you ensure that families are not thrown out onto the street through out-of-home placements. The same applies to domestic violence. You want to avoid things going from bad to worse and children having to flee the house with one of their parents.'

Stand around the child

More than 5,000 children end up in homeless or women's shelters every year. On top of that, many children are housed unstable. 'They are in danger of becoming homeless, but have found shelter with family or in a holiday home, for example,' says Wiegman. Friends: 'We try to support the child by offering a safe pedagogical basis. At home, in the neighborhood, at school and with partners like Valente. It's about participating."

What we are trying to do is strengthen the 'resilience' of children. Resilience is about being able to deal with difficult situations. For this you need a solid foundation. You can only tap into social, emotional and problem-solving skills if you have sufficient support and space to develop them. This is only possible with sufficient warmth and support around the child. Kinderposttempels tries to initiate and support this with programs and projects,' Vriends explains. 'Resilience is a core concept,' agrees Wiegman. 'Ultimately, every person needs that.

When children end up in a women's shelter with their mother, their gaze immediately turns outward.

How can children participate as much as possible so that they can go to school?

We provide a network of people around them who can help them move forward. So that they can regain confidence.' Resilience is also the name of the methodology for guiding children that is used in women's and social care, and was paid for by Kinderposttempels. Another Valente project developed with funding from Kinderposttempels is 'House, Tree, Beestje'. 'We have greened the outdoor areas of women's shelters and social organizations, so that children can play and relax outside safely.

'Wiegman: We are happy with the support of Kinderposttempels. With their support you can do that little bit extra that is not included in regular government financing. Why we are so happy with Children's Postage Stamps is that we can offer help at the front to children who have experienced serious things. We look at how we can break the patterns that are passed on from generation to generation.' Vriends responds to this: 'The money goes to serious themes. But we do it with a positive approach, where you show a generation that you can do something for your environment. I think that is very important at this time.'

This article was published in Trouw in December 2023.

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