Wij Inholland award 2019: Brandaris

‘De sociale cohesie in de Brandaris verhogen’

The Brandaris in Peldersveld, Zaandam. A flat bursting with different cultures and backgrounds. Beautiful, but also a challenge. How do you bring all these different cultures together? Third-year students Carmen Nanninga, Lisa Munster, Puck Kloek, Nina Suliman and Esma Binici from Inholland Alkmaar did research for their study program Social Work (minor in Welfare and Society) and STIPP (Students in Poelenburg / Peldersveld). The result: the Brandaris Day. "We’ve tried to improve the quality of living, create stronger connections between people and improve social cohesion."

"We wanted to organize an activity for and by residents, supported by students and professionals," explains Lisa. "That’s why we organized the Brandaris Day, together with Zaanstad council, council team Hoornse-/Peldersveld, Rochdale housing corporation and involved residents. The goal? To promote the quality of life (and living). During the Brandaris Day, residents could meet each other and make new connections.

What’s the result from your research?
Lisa: “Our research has revealed a number of problems, such as too much rubbish left lying around in communal areas and the fact that residents do not always feel safe. Also, the turnover in the flat is high. This all contributes to a lack of social cohesion. By addressing this during the Brandaris Day, we hoped to increase the health of the residents.”

What could the residents experience during the Brandaris Day?
Carmen: “It was a fun day with many different activities, such as crafts, making slime, a workshop ‘quench your thirst’ from JOGG (‘Youth at a Healthy Weight’) and a capoeira workshop. We also gave examples of what we can do to improve the quality of living. Furthermore, people could play football games, there was a ‘wish board’, a reading corner for the little ones and the residents made delicious cultural snacks for everyone. During a spontaneous dance lesson a number of young people showed off their amazing rap and singing talent.”

Sounds good! How did the different parties work together?
Carmen: “There were some valuable lesson learned! Due to miscommunication, not everyone felt heard. It was difficult for us to decide who we could best approach for certain things. Everyone has their own interests, therefore it’s hard to bring everyone together. Clear communication is essential here."

What other wise lessons did you learn?
Carmen: “That you shouldn't judge too soon. You hear a lot of nasty stories about Poelenburg, but when you get there you also see the other side of the story. That’s something I won’t forget.” Lisa believes you should do things that you normally wouldn’t do. Lisa: “I like to play it safe. Yet I went for this challenging project and left my comfort zone more than once. For example, I gave presentations for the local council. I learned a lot from this."

What feedback did you receive from your mentors?
"It was difficult to motivate and activate residents to improve their own flat. We tried to be in touch quite often, which did help. In the end, we were happy with the residents who wanted to be involved. We had a meeting with ten residents, according to council this was a positive thing. We’re taking small steps forward. That's why it's important to continue this concept now," says Carmen. Lisa agrees. "Our assessment was very positive. All partners were very enthusiastic. We worked hard for it and communicated actively with the residents. The residents now want to organize this more often. We created a positive vibe."

Do you stay involved in the Brandaris project?
Lisa: "STIPP continues with the project and will ask the next group of students to organize the Brandaris Day with their own twist. The residents are keen. We are currently doing an internship in Heerhugowaard. Lessons we’ve learned in Zaandam, we can now apply in our current internship. Perhaps we could even set up the same concept in Heerhugowaard. If we have the opportunity to organize this more often, I would love to do that.”

What advice would you like to give to other students?
Carmen: “Communicate well! Make sure the assignment is clear. Ask as many questions as you like. Divide the tasks well. It's okay to make mistakes, because you only learn from them. And you won't make the same mistakes again." “And”, Lisa adds, "make sure you know your own limits."

Wij Inholland award

Wij Inholland gives students the opportunity to raise awareness for their projects. A platform on which they can distinguish themselves with an innovative and multidisciplinary project. This project should focus on either health, sustainability or creativity. Moreover, it should also add a regional value by working in close collaboration with a (local) company, institution or community. The winning team receives practical support and a € 2000, - cheque.

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