“The idea actually arose immediately, when it was clear that the compensation would apply to everyone,” says initiator Ineke van Tol. Both Van Tol and her friend Monique van Hoogstraten do not themselves need the generic energy compensation. “But we still get the crowd, while other Amsterdam residents stand out in the cold. We were looking for an organization where we could donate our money, preferably locally. Because we couldn’t find a suitable place for this, we thought: let’s do it ourselves.”
Van Tol and Van Hoogstraten started a citizens’ initiative: Be Warmhearted – as a pun on the saying on Amsterdam’s coat of arms. “We don’t need our energy supplement of 190 euros as much as many others in the city. Every sixth family in Amsterdam lives at – or even below – the poverty line. With the campaign, we encourage citizens who can also save the 190 euros to share them,’ can be read on the website 190euro.nl.
“We heard several sounds in our area of people who would like to donate their compensation. We initially planned to collect the money ourselves and distribute it in Amsterdam, but it became difficult. Therefore, we have chosen to cooperate with three experienced foundations: Amsterdam Emergency Fund, Poverty Fund and Food Bank. We have made permanent agreements with them. All the money collected via 190euro.nl goes to projects in Amsterdam,” says Van Tol.
“When you cycle through Amsterdam, you are confronted with large income differences. It just depends on which exit from Het Vondelpark you take and which neighborhood you end up in,” says Van Hoogstraten. “We hope to send a message with this campaign: Many Amsterdammers are already struggling and will soon be out in the cold. Help your fellow citizens this winter with a simple donation.”
To draw attention to the campaign, the initiators approached ambassadors. “With a social face.” For example, prominent Amsterdammers such as councilor Marjolein Moorman, entrepreneur Annemarie van Gaal and former mayor Job Cohen support the campaign. “Every euro that comes in is a good bonus. You can also choose to donate part of the compensation,” says Van Tol.
The campaign runs throughout November and December. “But maybe we will continue for a longer time, we feel that there is great enthusiasm. In the first days, we are positive about what comes in. A sense of community and togetherness is needed and with this action you can easily contribute to each other and to the city,” concludes Van Hoogstraten.
‘Immediately 380 euros transferred’
The donations will go to the poverty fund, the food bank and the Amsterdam Special Need Fund (FBNA). Since the campaign went live on Friday, the Poverty Foundation and the Food Bank have already received dozens of donations. FBNA talks about forty donations. Director Marita Tolman says that the vast majority of it is 190 euros. “A number of amounts are below that and others have immediately transferred 380 euros.”
FBNA organizes a donation campaign for Amsterdammers every year. This year, Tolman hopes to collect double the amount of last year: 35,000 euros. “We hope for an amount that grows with the necessary.” According to Tolman, the number of requests for assistance has increased compared to last year. “And then there’s also inflation on what you spend on someone, so someone can buy the same thing for the increased amount.”
An application is submitted to FBNA through a social worker, who looks at the overall financial picture of a household. Tolman: “For some it means a gift for shopping money, for others it means replacing a fridge and for others it means necessary dental treatment.”
In our city of solidarity, we look after each other. Amsterdammers Monique and Ineke prove this with their wonderful call to donate the energy compensation of 190 euros (if you can spare it) to a good cause.
I am proud to support this action ❤️
— Marjolein Moorman (@MarjoleinMoor) 5 November 2022