Welcome - European Network on Family Group Conference

Democratizing help and welfare in Europe
Not directly bothered, but directly involved

We have the tendency to focus on problems and then forget the strengths that are there, although not immediately visible. After many years of experience with ‘Eigen Kracht’ we dare to trust that there are always strengths. If you don’t see the strengths, you must look further and ask further until you find them. In a street in the South of the Netherlands there had been trouble for a long time. When it threatened to escalate, the district policeman called us and asked if we could do something. A coordinator went to the street and passed by all the houses. He asked everybody in the street whether they wanted to come to a meeting to think along and make a plan, to improve the atmosphere.

Ring everywhere
Very soon it became clear that it was about a quarrel between the residents of five houses and a couple from another house. The neighbourhood pointed out this couple as the perpetrator of all the trouble. A lot had happened: name calling, plants that were pulled out of the ground, mess thrown into gardens. Some neighbours felt unsafe and more people became involved. The coordinator rang everywhere and also visited people who were less involved. One neighbour said: ‘It doesn’t bother me personally, it had nothing to do with me, but I feel involved, because it is about the quality of life in my neighbourhood. What would it be like if I came too?’ There were more neighbours who wanted to come to think along, even if they didn’t feel personally involved.

Where there is a will, ….
At the meeting (we call that the conference), with the district policeman and the official of the municipality present, these neighbours made the difference. ‘There role at the meeting was huge’, said the coordinator, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’, was the first statement of a neighbour. And the will to improve the atmosphere was there’. The couple who at first was pointed out as the cause of all the trouble, was supported by their direct neighbours. They encouraged the couple to share information about their situation. When they told their story, it led to more understanding from all the others. This paved the way for the whole group to make a plan. A plan for the entire street!


A story from The Netherlands

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