4 girlfriends ensure that Jan (90) is no longer lonely

Jan (90) and other elderly people living independently are allowed to go out for dinner once a month with Karin, Stephanie, Marieke and Vicky. As Stichting Met Je Hart Geertruidenberg, the group of friends wants to combat loneliness in their municipality. And that has not gone unnoticed. The friends have a chance to win the National Volunteer Award.

Written by

Eve Hendriks

Out of 346 entries, the foundation from Geertruidenberg is one of the last six contenders for the National Volunteer Award. Jan is not surprised by that. “I admire the ladies. I missed contact, but thanks to them I am no longer isolated. I was eating myself at home.”

“Many friends my age have died.”

Jan’s family lives far away, which makes the foundation a godsend for him. “I reminisced about the past with my neighbor, but unfortunately he passed away like many friends my age. Now I can talk about the past over dinner.”

Jan is also busy outside the monthly dinner. “I have made new friendships there. I go shuffleboard every week with three men and a woman whom I met thanks to the foundation. That is very nice.”

He himself has been active as a volunteer at the local football club for many years. “It’s great that someone is now committed to me. You don’t see that very often anymore.”

“Loneliness is a taboo among the elderly.”

That does not apply to the friends behind the foundation. In September they joined the national foundation Met je hart and took action, but that did not immediately happen. “Loneliness is a taboo among the elderly. They don’t want to be found sad while there are very harrowing stories,” says volunteer Karin Dubbelman.

In retrospect, the foundation turned out to be a great success. They easily fill two tables with six elderly people during their dinner parties. There is even a waiting list for the elderly and volunteers. A third table will therefore be added soon.

According to Karin this is a good thing because help is desperately needed. “The Netherlands has 1.6 million elderly people. Due to the aging population, that will soon be 2.4 million. They all have to live on their own for as long as possible, which means that loneliness is lurking.”

“Small effort but you mean a lot.”

She likes to put an end to the image that you have to be retired for volunteer work. “We are all around forty and pick up the elderly once a month for dinner. In addition, we call them briefly in between. It takes so little time and effort and means so much to these people. They are happy and grateful. “

The same goes for Jan, who is already looking forward to the next dinner. The friends will hear on June 16 whether they can receive the prize.