In the Veenkoloniën, a region in the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen, 14,000 families live in poverty, often generation after generation. Researchers from the Faculty of Spatial Sciences of the University of Groningen spent five years researching the origins and persistence of poverty through generations. The research shows that customization and long-term planning are necessary to break through hereditary poverty in the Veenkoloniën. The research was commissioned by the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen and in close collaboration with the Alliantie van Kracht.
Researchers prof. Tialda Haartsen, dr. Sander van Lanen and dr. Erik Meij explain: “We interviewed different generations of 23 families and found out that there is not one form of inherited poverty. Coming up with one solution will not worksfor everyone. The most important lesson from the research project is that it is necessary to make customization possible. For this, many organizations have to go back to the drawing board to focus on people or families in poverty and to work on long-term relationships, mutual cooperation and continuity of support and assistance.”
Deputy Tjeerd van Dekken, province of Groningen: “The research clearly shows a gap between what someone living in poverty needs and what is offered in terms of help. We know from the research project that families in poverty often assess their own situation and possibilities differently than the social workers. Government policy, rules and facilities must therefore be in line with the family's perspective. Only in this way can the vicious circle be broken. The research results provide sufficient tools for this that can be used in practice.”
Based on the knowledge from the research project, the Alliantie van Kracht is jointly creating a 20-year programme with 42 partners. This enables the preconditions for customization: do not start from projects, but strengthen existing structures and experiment in regions, villages and neighbourhoods. In the coming months, the Alliantie van Kracht will organize various work sessions with experts by experience, professionals, civil society organizations and civil servants to work out the follow-up together. In these sessions, the scientific insights will be converted into action in practice.
Deputy Hans Kuipers, province of Drenthe: “We know that hereditary poverty is persistent and that there is no single solution for all problems. Customization is needed, and a long-term approach is necessary. The question remains how we keep room for customization in long-term planning, without closing things down. Or what do we do if long-term goals from government policy do not match those of families living in poverty? These are questions that will be worked out in follow-up sessions together with partners such as the Alliantie van Kracht.”
Hereditary poverty did not arise in one generation. Solving this form of poverty is therefore also a matter of patience. The Alliantie van Kracht is a network that works together with the residents of the Veenkoloniën region to solve hereditary poverty.
A summary of the research is available at: www.rug.nl//research/ursi/essay-intergenerationele-armoede.pdf (available in Dutch only). See also the other research reports on the Alliantie van Kracht website (also only in Dutch).
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