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Democratizing help and welfare in Europe
Being heard

‘In the end it is not about being right or about self interest, but about being heard and being treated fairly’, was the conclusion of an employee of the neighbourhood team who had made a referral for a community conference for the residents of two flats. There was a lot of agitation and the neighbourhood team discovered that many colleagues had clients in the flat, separately from each other. Their contacts were about the problems of the separate families, but there appeared to be jointed problems. It was about addiction, domestic violence, quarrels and debts.

‘We were unable to connect properly, each of us looked at his or her own clients’, the employee of the neighbourhood team told us, ‘but more was needed. We tried to bring them together, but we didn’t succeed. There was a lot of distrust of the families towards the municipality, towards the housing association and towards the district police agent. They said: ‘We don’t know you, we never see you, only when something is wrong’. The social worker said: ‘We were party in this matter’. The independent coordinator helped, because he had no interest in this matter. He had time, he went through all the houses and talked to all the neighbours and to the professionals involved.

‘People liked it that I came by and that I listened to their stories. They were prepared to come to a meeting to think along, provided that the municipality would come to listen. The municipality wanted to come to listen and to tell what they expected from the inhabitants’, said the coordinator. At the meeting people from the two flats were present, together with people from the municipality, the housing association, the neighbourhood team and the district police agent. Each of them shared their story and they exchanged what they needed. The employee of the neighbourhood team told: ‘A connection has been established and that is why trust has grown. We can work together because we know each other better. We must now live up to it, but there is a good basis. Trust in each other is the key!’


A story from the Netherlands

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