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Erasmus TV: Postponing the bsa and RSC/RVSV wants to help people

What will happen to the binding study advice now that there is so much changing at the… (GMDMWH) was set up in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. RSC/RVSV President Guido van Winden explains that the platform can bring people in need of help in touch with those who can offer it. “We immediately got cracking after seeing it mentioned in a group app.”

“The management of the website is coordinated nationally. We’re currently working on a pilot project that automates the matching process,” explains Van Winden. “We’re ensuring that all local initiatives in Rotterdam run smoothly.”

Dog walking and groceries

All sorts of requests are coming in at the local Rotterdam platform. “In most cases, people are asking us to do groceries for them, walk their dog, arrange meals for them or take care of the children of people working in vital occupations. Now schools have closed, the children of care workers, teachers, transport workers and others are suddenly home all day. We take care of their kids so they can go to work.”

According to Van Winden, it is bizarre how quickly the entire platform was set up – and continues to change: “It has grown tremendously. In the span of one week, it developed from a simple Google Forms survey into a full-fledged website. And as I mentioned, we recently added the automated matching of supply and demand.”

‘Students are bored’

The GMDMWH initiatives are coordinated by stichting Betrokken Student, a foundation set up by RSC/RVSV. The activity originally planned by the foundation board was cancelled in response to the outbreak, leaving its members with a lot of time on their hands. The eight students are happy that they now have other ways to help.

According to Van Winden, it isn’t just students who want to do their bit. “You also have people stuck at home, unable to go to work due to the outbreak. A lot of the people helping out are students though – although that’s also because so far we’ve mainly promoted the platform in our own network. We had to put a lot of things on hold as board members: normally our society building is open three evenings a week, for some 1,600 members. This was suddenly put on hold. Cancelled exams and online lectures have lost their magic though. Students are bored.”

‘Usually, the residents’ meals are prepared by volunteers, but the soup kitchen has been temporarily closed. And residents aren’t allowed to dine together in the common area’

Mirthe is helping in a shelter for addicts and former homeless people

RSC/RVSV member Mirthe Reimes took on a project where she prepares frozen meals and delivers them to former homeless people and addicts in a building managed by charity organisation Humanitas. The Fiscal Economics master student explains that this programme was set up as an emergency measure during the outbreak. “Usually, the residents’ meals are prepared by volunteers, but the soup kitchen has been temporarily closed. And residents aren’t allowed to dine together in the common area. As a solution, from Tuesday to Friday, a fellow student in our association and I defrost the meals in the oven and go by their doors with them. So the 35 residents can have one hot meal a day after all.”

Mutually beneficial

So far, both GMDMWH and the Humanitas project have been well received. According to Van Winden, people are incredibly happy that someone can help them. “We’re substituting for volunteers who are in a high-risk category. The Food Bank has a lot of volunteers who’ve had to cancel due to this. And we’re glad that we can do something for Rotterdam.”

Mirthe also likes being able to do something for others and being appreciated for it. “You get to see a world that you normally don’t have much to do with as an aspiring tax specialist. An initiative like the one at Humanitas brought me in contact with completely different occupations and people than I’d meet in everyday life. I think that’s quite special.”

Uncertain future

The platform’s future is still uncertain. “Right now, people are volunteering because they don’t have any lectures on campus and are bored,” says Mirthe. “The situation seems to change every day. I think enthusiasm will subside somewhat when people return to their studies.” Van Winden emphasises that right now, supply is actually outstripping demand. “People who need help can register via the website. There are a lot of people who could really use some assistance, so we’re always looking for both people who can offer and who need help.”