Humanitas

Monday 15 June 2015, by bartremysam

1 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Humanitas was founded in 1945 right after the Second World War to provide support to the impoverished population of the Netherlands. Humanitas is one of the main social services and community building organizations of the Netherlands supporting over 57.800 people. Humanitas is a nonprofit association which aims to support people who, for a range of different reasons, temporarily cannot manage on their own.

The company supplies a lot of different kind of activities, for example helping immigrants to integrate in the Dutch society with buddy programs and support groups. Humanitas doesn’t charge fees for those services and they are available to anyone irrespective of age, ethnicity, lifestyle and sexual orientation.

Humanitas has 6 main areas they work with:
1. Integration of ex-convicts
2. Administrative help
3. Loneliness
4. Education
5. Nurture
6. Loss

Most of Humanitas’ services are provided by their 18.000 well trained volunteers and they are supported by a professional staff of about 300 people. Together they work with over 700 different projects in more than 80 departments.

The activity of Humanitas we are highlighting in this project is the offering of rooms to students in their retirement homes. In return for free rooms at a retirement home in the Dutch town of Deventer, students will spend at least 30 hours a month with the elderly residents living there, doing anything from doing their groceries, preparing their food or try to bring them into the 21st century by introducing them to the digital world. But students are the highlight of the days of the residents by just having a small chat.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

We will answer this question while looking specifically at a project with respect to retirement homes. Elderly loneliness is a big problem in current society. Even though the current technical possibilities; you can talk to somebody in the other end of the world with a few mouse clicks, lots of people feel lonely, not even only elderly people. But out of the 4 million people older than 55 in The Netherlands, one million of them feel lonely and 200.000 of them feel extremely lonely, they have only 1 social contact each month. Off the 2.9 million people aged older than 65, 900.000 feel lonely (Dutch Elderly Fund, 2014). Obviously, loneliness is a big problem and a significant contribution to somebody’s mental health, but also to the physical health; loneliness contribute to for example malnutrition.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

As it is intrinsically and inherently attentive and helpful in nature, it is by definition ethical. Furthermore, it is a not for profit company and has its moral and ethical values high. For example, Humanitas advocates humanist values such as: equality (of volunteer and client), responsibility (for yourself and others in society) and independence (the activities are geared towards ensuring that the clients can once more take control of their lives). The home is offering free housing to local students, and in exchange the students agree to spend a minimum of 30 hours per month interacting with the 160 seniors living there. This can be anything from helping with meal prep, shopping trips, teaching them to use computers, playing games and much more.

We would like to say that it is not only beneficial for the residents, but there are several benefits for students. Actually, one of the reason why Humanitas started this project is the shortage of rooms for students in the Netherlands. So with this projects, it is possible for students to get one while also helping out elderly people.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

Challenges for the company might be of economic nature. This could be general budget cuts of all parties involved such as sponsors (e.g. lotteries), government grants, donations and general income from other activities. Consequently, this could be a challenge as to arrange new projects and ideas to implement and actualize. This could be a major threshold and therefore a challenge for Humanitas. As a consequence, not everyone might have benefit from this company.

Another possible challenge is the misfit between the students and the residents; the possibility that the project will not succeed. But practice has proven that students and residents are actually quite happy about the project and other retirement homes have already started doing the same project. We feel that this is because of strict screening process of students where they also look at what would be a good match between students and residents.

Location: Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Sector: Human health and social work activities

Official website: http://www.humanitas.nl

Key figures:

- Staff: 300
- Volunteers: 18.000
- Supports >57.800 people

Nbr. visits: 493

Nbr. inspires: 1