Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Nieuw-West to become testing ground for self-reliance

6 Oct 2014 12:02

Three projects are being launched in Amsterdam’s Nieuw-West district to help citizens become self-reliant. The Nieuw-West district and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) are going to assist and guide residents in developing healthy financial behaviour, improving their district and providing learning support to children at home. The partners will start these research projects in October and will test whether the methods work in practice.

The projects will be presented in the Nieuw-West district council building at Plein 40-45 no.1 on Thursday, 9 October, in the presence of executive committee member Erik Bobeldijk. The HvA researchers involved will present the structure of the three self-reliance projects during this meeting.

Helping children to learn at home

In the ‘Kitchen Table Project’ students will provide learning support to children in grades 1 to 3. They will involve parents in the conversations ‘at the kitchen table’ and, after 15 weeks, will measure whether both the parents and children have noticed any progress. The idea is that parents receive guidance to continue themselves after these conversations. “Parents often do not know how to get involved in what children learn at school,” explains researcher Emma Verspoor. “In the Kitchen Table Project they are shown fun ways of supporting their children: for example, by reading to them or by explaining how to cook. They don’t have to be highly educated to do this.” Following the initial evaluation, this project will be continued for the next two years.

 

Handling money better

The ‘Self-reliance and Poverty’ project aims to teach the residents of Nieuw-West to handle money better in spite of poverty. Many of Nieuw-West’s residents live on the social minimum and many of them have debts. In this project Professor Roeland van Geuns and Bregje Dijksterhuis will research how those affected can get a tighter grip on their finances. The researchers will start by identifying all aid agencies (debt counsellors and financial organisations) and the most effective methods. Then behavioural therapy and various instruments will be used to improve financial behaviour.

Making the district ‘healthy’

The third self-reliance project is all about making the neighbourhood ‘healthy’ by researching how residents can improve the district themselves, instead of leaving this up to official organisations. Researcher Lea den Broeder will introduce the ‘district inspection’ for this purpose: the residents themselves will evaluate all aspects that influence their health and well-being. An app will also be developed so that residents can submit notifications, for example in the case of a dangerous intersection or vandalism.

Field labs

The studies conducted by the HvA and the Nieuw-West district together will take place in the Nieuw-West Field Lab. In this Field Lab the educational institution will form a full co-partnership with the city, and whether the methods work will be continuously studied in practice. The HvA has also set up field labs in the Zuidoost and Oost districts. This ensures that research takes place in practice, with the results being fed directly back to the city. For information on the Nieuw-West Field Lab, please contact HvA Urban Management, Field Lab coordinator Anna de Zeeuw: a.m.de.zeeuw@hva.nl.