Bolsward’s much-needed furniture bank is in danger of disappearing

In Bolsward you don’t need a furniture bank, right? This question is often asked by Johan Steen, one of the directors of the home content bank. But since the start of this initiative in 2021, 1,612 requests for home content have already been made; from cutlery and crockery to beds and washing machines. It provides an insight into the hidden poverty that exists in the region. However, the domestic content bank is in danger of disappearing.

There is certainly “silent” poverty in the Bolsward area, says co-director Fokke Hoekstra. “We often encounter people who literally live on concrete.” The interior consists of folding chairs, a camping table, a TV stand and bags on the wall containing clothes.

In the former Rabobank building, the content bank occupies the entire ground floor and is rented by the Elkien housing association. The clients of the household goods bank are Dutch families with sub-minimum income, but also high-status people who do not own furniture. “A lot of people think that the municipality provides them with the furniture, but that’s not true,” says Steen. For this reason, people are of the opinion that such a furniture bench is not necessary. “It’s not your world. Or they don’t want to know. “People are quick to turn a blind eye to other people’s problems,” says Steen.

The initiative is open by appointment and volunteers are called approximately 500 times a year or, as they say, “written notes.” “Yesterday we wrote note 1612,” says Hoekstra. Forgiven household items receive a blue notebook to let people know something has been set aside. Customers who come in should always make an appointment, because “you don’t want your neighbor hanging around here too,” says Hoekstra. Additionally, they should bring an administrator with them so that the home contents bank is sure that people really need it.

Charity

The rent, as well as items such as coffee and tea, are provided by the Cáritas diaconal initiative of the parish of Santo Tito Brandsma. Additionally, the home assets bank has a trailer on loan from the parish. Caritas includes Bolsward, Makkum, Witmarsum and Workum. Financial aid makes a big difference. In the household items bank, people receive everything for free and that is why they depend on the sponsors, because although the cabinets, televisions and chairs are donations to the household items bank, other things have to be paid for.

A team of about fifteen volunteers works in the home contents bank. One of them is Rika Aukema. Her colleagues also call her “the director”; she was standing on the cradle of the furniture bench. Together with deacon Kees van Kordelaar, she began publishing tableware. “We need more than just dishes.” She is extremely creative and likes to style furniture and homes. Some volunteers call this charity “Rikea”.

On New Year’s Day, Aukema suffered a stroke and the fact that he has been there since February has caused much admiration among his teammates. Volunteers share joys and sorrows with each other. Ineke Terpstra, also a volunteer, really sees it as a refuge. Her husband was in a bicycle accident, so “his head doesn’t always work properly anymore,” she says. When he later suffered from breast cancer, she found it nice to be able to tell his story from time to time and found it in the household objects bank.

The home content bank also ensures connection between volunteers, and connection is Kees van Kordelaar’s key word. The volunteers, some of different nationalities, met through the home’s contents bank. They celebrate birthdays together and raffle with Sinterklaas

Demolition

However, the initiative appears to be coming to an end. The entire old Rabobank building will soon be demolished and 24 apartments for seniors will be built there. The furniture bench must disappear but has not yet found a suitable place. “We have received offers from people who have a shed on a farm. But unfortunately that is not possible. “It’s too cold and too humid,” says Steen. They don’t know exactly when they will have to leave, but they hope to be able to stay in the building until after the summer.

The home goods bank is looking for a space near Bolsward. A new building does not have to be as big as the old one, as long as it can withstand the cold and humidity.

You can find more information about the household goods bank at www.inboedelbankbolsward.nl

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