Coffee against loneliness

15 October 2021 - Published by Walter Wehus
“It all starts with direct contact”, says alderman Jan Broekema in the city of Assen. This month he was one of many handing out coffee and striking up conversations in the Week against loneliness.

Recently, a diverse group of people were seen all over the city of Assen, handing out coffee and starting conversations. At the city’s new railway station, alderman Jan Broekema was pouring coffee.

«We are handing out cups of coffee, having conversations and saying “hi”. Because approachable, direct contact is what it’s all about and where it starts», he says.

The initiative was part of the Week against loneliness in Assen, which again is part of the national One Against Loneliness campagin in the Netherlands.

Conversations across generations

In Assen, fourteen different organisations take part in the coalition against loneliness. One of them is a school, and the students were enthusiastic about taking part.

“The enthusiasm amongst the students was really inspiring. I was so happy to see young people taking loneliness seriously”, says advisor Janine Rinsampessy in the Municipality of Assen.

There are already plans to make room for more intergenerational contact about loneliness, she says.

Working together

The participants didn’t bring up the theme of loneliness right away. They started out offering people coffee and striking up everyday conversations. When they were asked why they were handing out cofee, loneliness came up.

“A good thing about our coalition was that we could work together. If questions about community centers or finances came up, we could address it then and there. This was a really nice start when it comes to awareness of loneliness”, says Rinsampessy.