Student - March 24, 2020

Time to spare? Help a neighbour!

Text:
Coretta Jongeling

No sooner had the measures against corona been decreed, or the first digital platforms offering help were launched. The elderly and people confined to their homes are often unable to cope by themselves. Students Ries van Dijk and Hermen Buitenhuis have joined the initiative to help out.

Volunteers put up posters to make people aware of help.

The webpage Just people wanting to help has been in existence for a while now but has become relevant of late — the site brokers between people needing help and those prepared to offer their services. The provided support ranges from helping out with grocery shopping to walking the dog.

Bachelor student Nutrition and Health Ries van Dijk recently became regional manager for the site, linking supply and demand in almost all of the Eastern Netherlands. Ries is currently working as a board member for student association Ceres but expects life in the association to remain low-key for the foreseeable future. Plenty of time for other activities. ‘We have currently managed to make about twenty corona related matches. I am brokering these matches myself at the moment, which is rather time-consuming. We hope to digitise further so that supply and demand are automatically linked. The fact that we were in the media on De Wereld Draait Door and Jinek, will likely cause an increase in the number of applications. Some of my friends have also signed up to help, and we have put out a call in Ceres.’

Face masks and extra classes
Facebook group Coronahulp Wageningen also links those able to help with those in need, but more directly and on a smaller scale. The group grew to almost one thousand members in a matter of four days. Doctors put out requests for facemasks people may have lying around; a scholar ask for help in preparing for exams, and yet another person is looking for someone to help her parents with their grocery shopping. ‘I live in Haarlem, and my parents are over 80 years old.’

Hermen Buitenhuis, a third-year student Plant Sciences, got involved through the Red Cross. ‘The Red Cross offers all sorts of relief help and has now opened an emergency phone number (070-4455888). We mainly get calls from vulnerable people. Many questions can be solved by phone, but occasionally we offer physical assistance, for example, by doing some small chore such as grocery shopping. But if more help is needed, we are also available. The volunteers, a large number of whom are students, are out and about today to post flyers with our phone number in the region.’

Hermen is staying at home because he has had a cough for a few days. ‘I coordinate all requests for help that come in and have also just started on my thesis. There is no need for me to go outside.’

Have time to spare? Hermen urges you to register at Ready2Help. You can also check out  gewoonmensendiemensenwillenhelpen.nl, or, if you prefer a more direct approach, join the Facebook group Coronahulp Wageningen.


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